FOR CHRISTIANS, hope is ultimately hope in Christ. The hope that he really is what for centuries we have been claiming he is. The hope that despite the fact that sin and death still rule the world, he somehow conquered them. The hope that in him and through him all of us stand a chance of somehow conquering them too. The hope that at some unforeseeable time and in some unimaginable way he will return with healing in his wings.
No one in the New Testament calls a spade a spade as unflinchingly as Saint Paul. "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile," he wrote to the Corinthians. "If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied" (1 Corinthians 15:17,19). That is the possibility in spite of which Saint Paul and the rest of us go on hoping even so. That is the possibility that led Dostoyevski to write to a friend, "If anyone proved to me that Christ was outside the truth, and it really was so that the truth was outside Christ, then I would prefer to remain with Christ than with the truth."