This coming Sunday, I'll be preaching about hope. And that always makes me think of a trip to Guatemala I took during seminary as a part of a "Ministry Immersion" class.
There’s a workshop in the middle of one of the poorest neighborhood in Guatemala City. This workshop employs the women of the neighborhood, who sew traditional Guatemalan items that are sold mostly to tourists. Employment at this workshop is the last line of defense keeping most of the women (and their families) from hunger and homelessness.
The workshop is called “UPAVIM,” an acronym for “Unidas para vivir mejor” - “United to Live Better.” You can see more about their work here - http://www.upavim.org/
The reason I’m mentioning UPAVIM today, though is to point out the name of the neighborhood in which they work.
The neighborhood is called “La Esperanza” - “Hope.”
It seems an ironic choice for a name; on the surface there really doesn’t seem to be much hope in the community. Poverty is the rule. Children pick through the garbage dump for food or maybe the odd trinket they might be able to sell for a bit of change. Gang violence is common. Alcoholism and drug addiction are everywhere.
And yet, it is “La Esperanza.” It is “Hope.”
In chapter 8 of Romans it says that “hope that is seen is not hope.” I wonder what that means exactly? I wonder if it means that true hope lies under the surface? I wonder if that means that there’s a difference between “hope” and “optimism,” like optimism is that “on the surface” feeling that things are going well whereas hope is that “under the surface” assurance that things are going to be all right in spite of what’s happening “on the surface?"
Hope - when everything is not okay, God gives us hope. God says, “Here comes the sun, and I say - It’s all right!”