We read in 1 Peter 3:15, "Always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you have." Michael Downey, Professor of Systematic Theology and Spirituality at St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, California, examines the dynamics of hope in our time. He finds that many people are unable to move into the future with clear conviction. Some of the hindrances to hope include the interruptive character of history, discontinuities between expectation and event, and the ways suffering disorients and baffles us.

Even within the Christian community, "hope seems to be something like a proverbial 'middle child' sandwiched in between affirmations about the priority of faith and the excellence of love." Downey observes that in Christianity this virtue is explicitly linked to our relationship with God. Using poetry, stories from his personal experience, and theological musings, the author salutes hope as the driving force of all human initiative, a central theme of the Bible, and a way of making good in life. Hope stirs in the heart when we serve others. And it is its selflessness that makes this virtue so significant.