Today's TV sermon, inspired by tonight's wonderfully entertaining Hurley-centric episode of Lost, is all about hope. About not giving up hope, even when the TV gods seem to be working against our innate optimism that all good things come to those who patiently wait and watch.

I have hope for Lost, always have had. The show may never regain the mass audience of its first season, and that was probably inevitable. As the show got denser and the island more cluttered with new characters and enigmas, not all created equal, the impatient among us gave up, screaming "not another Twin Peaks!" and drifted away to more predictable shores. Their loss. Even at its worst, which arguably came in the ill-conceived six-episode "pod" last fall, Lost is still one of TV's most ambitious and spectacular productions, blessed with a fascinatingly diverse cast (this year, largely underused until now) that reveals new depths with each flashback into their back stories. For all of the whining about the withholding of answers, some absolutely justified and some just an example of whining for whining's sake, the level of storytelling on Lost is generally among TV's most absorbing.

(Wasn't it interesting that when Heroes employed the Lost approach this week, giving us compelling flashbacks into HRG's history and revealing unexpected connections with characters like Claude and Hiro's dad, all of this framing a thrilling real-time adventure, the show delivered its first truly four-star episode.)

Anyway, back to Hurley (the invaluable Jorge Garcia), who in this week's episode decides to snap himself, and by extension Lost itself, out of the funk everyone has been in since the Others took Kate, Sawyer and Jack captive, altering the show's focus in a way very few found satisfying.

"We could all use some fun," Hurley declares after discovering the ruins of a car in the jungle. Said car triggers (what else) flashbacks to Hurley's pre-island life, including his abandonment by his father (Cheech Marin) and more fallout from the "curse" of those blasted lottery numbers.

Is Hurley's curse related to the woes of Charlie, who's still haunted by Desmond's premonitions of his impending doom? Don't look for answers. Instead, roll with Hurley's life-affirming watchcry: "Let's make our own luck!" The end result is an uplifting joyride that reminds us that, as with most classic TV shows, Lost's greatest asset is its indelible characters.

As someone says tonight, it's never too late for a fresh start. In the case of Lost, it's absolutely not too late. In fact, it's just in time. If you're so inclined, enjoy.

And while we're on the subject of hope, here's what else I hope:

That NBC will do the right thing and renew Friday Night Lights for a second season. As people slowly discover it, and realize that it's about so much more than football, I believe its audience will grow. Not into a blockbuster, but into the sort of prestige item that NBC can not only be proud of but make money from. (The recent episodes, dealing with racial tensions on the team and parental tensions as the coach's daughter considered losing her virginity, have been the best yet.)

That Veronica Mars, when it returns from hiatus in (presumably) late April, will go out on a high with self-contained episodes that illuminate character over convoluted mystery. The who-killed-the-Dean denouement this Tuesday wasn't as ludicrous as last season's rooftop climax, but it felt rushed and ultimately a bit ridiculous. Forget Veronica being a modern Nancy Drew. This time she was acting more like Perry Mason. (Have I given up hope, refuting today's gospel, for a fourth season? A bit. I still enjoy the characters, but feel it has kind of played itself out. I'd be happy to be proved wrong, especially if it means we get to see Veronica get the FBI internship poor Professor Landry helped set up for her.)

That Heroes can sustain its momentum from this week's best-ever episode.

That Supernatural fans will forgive me for my churlish response in Monday's Ask Matt column to the e-mail blitz from those desperate to keep the show alive. I was overwhelmed, to be sure, but I hear your pain and am glad to share your concern. I also hope the network gives me a third season to finally get with the program.

What do you hope for? Let me know below or in the Ask Matt forum.