After a year, it is probably a good time to tell you about the hope in Windblown Hope. I started to write about it eight months ago and gave up. So much for perseverance. My problem is that I suddenly felt way to small to write about hope. In the meanwhile books like “Surprised by Hope” by N. T. Wright and “The Audacity of Hope” by Barack Obama came out.(I’ve not read any of them.) Obviously hope is important. To me, hope is this huge gigantic thing, but I find it difficult to explain why. It’s one of those things I know without knowing how I got there.(Mmmm, perhaps I should do some serious digging.) I just “know’ the effect of hope. In human beings it can be profound.
1 Cor 13:13 says the following: Meanwhile these three remain: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love. I usually tell my friends. Nope, the biggest of these is hope. If you look at people, the one thing I usually see more of, is hope. Much more than faith or love. Look at a football game. Your team is down by 10 points with 10 minutes to play. Is there hope that your team can still make it. Hell, yes. Ever spoke to a farmer? Will the rain come? Yes, it will. Will the car salesman after a day of “no sales” be back tomorrow to close another deal? You bet. Why do people buy Lottery Tickets? To give money to charity? No, they hope they will win lots of money. Why do people go for the bigger salary? I argue that they hope that life will be better with more money in the bank. I can go on and on and on. Look at your own life. Had a bad day? You took a deep breath. Perhaps you will make yourself a cup of coffee or pour the drink you like and then suddenly there is a thought. Maybe tomorrow will be better. There is a hope that not everyday can be this crappy. Perhaps you had a great day. Then maybe tomorrow will even be better. Hope is for everybody.
However, some of you reading this will think, “This guy is nuts. Tomorrow will be worse. Or tomorrow will be the same as any other day. Come back to earth.” Hope is definitely not your friend. Perhaps you will agree with Friedrich Nietzsche who said: “Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man.” Ask anybody in a wheelchair if they do not hope to walk again. People with a terminal illness know they are going to die. What hope is there for a long and happy life? Or maybe, your life is a constant struggle. Everyday you seem to fight a losing battle. You’ve experienced the erosion of hope. What’s the use of this life? Is this all there is? It was Oscar Wilde’s mother that wrote: ”Life is agony and hope, illusion and despair, all commingled, but despair outlasts all.”
What do we do when all hope is lost? We give up. We die a little death each day. I think hope is most vulnerable substance on earth. It is so easy to snuff hope out in a person. Ask any person who has been bullied at school. Dante Alighieri’s inscription on the entrance to hell says the following: “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.” I think the people entering the concentration camps during World War 2 knew what those words meant. Yet, inside those places of despair, hope was not eradicated. Victor Frankl lost most of his family, but the one thing that was not taken from him was the thought of his wife and the hope that they will see each other again. Victor saw that the prisoners, who lost hope, were the ones who died quickest in the concentration camp. That should teach us something on how powerful hope is.
Of course there is false hope. All of us have desires for ourselves, for our loved ones and for the future. These wishes are the result of our desires and the insights of what we think would be great or rewarding for us. When all is said and done, hope can be a product of wishful thoughts and is then nothing more than a biased response to something we desire. We will be disappointed. Our team will lose. But if our team lose, do we lose hope as well? Martin Luther King said: “If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all.” Probably one of my most favourite quotes is one by Anne Lamott. “Hope begins in the dark; the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.”
The Bible is of course, full of hope. The prophet Joel prophesied of a day when God’s Spirit would be poured out on all people, that day when God’s daughters and sons would prophecy, and old men would dream dreams and young men would see visions for the Spirit would be alive in all.”
Mat 12:17 He did this so as to make come true what God had said through the prophet Isaiah:
Mat 12:18 “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, the one I love, and with whom I am pleased. I will send my Spirit upon him, and he will announce my judgment to the nations.
Mat 12:19 He will not argue or shout, or make loud speeches in the streets.
Mat 12:20 He will not break off a bent reed, nor put out a flickering lamp. He will persist until he causes justice to triumph,
Mat 12:21 and on Him all peoples will put their HOPE.”
Actually the Bible surrounds us with Hope. In Jesus we have the personification of hope. 1 Tim 1:1- “…God our Savior and Christ Jesus our HOPE.
Look at these verses:
1 Peter 1:3 -“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a LIVING HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Heb 6:19- “This HOPE WE HAVE AS AN ANCHOR of the Soul, a HOPE BOTH SURE AND STEADFAST and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us…As a ship is safe when it is anchored OUR HOPE IS SECURE when it is binds us to Christ, our Great High priest who has entered the sanctuary.
1 Peter 3:15 – ” be ready to give an account of the HOPE THAT IS WITHIN you to everyone who asks.”
Romans 5:5 – “And HOPE DOES NOT DISAPPOINT us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” It gives us reason to be joyful
Romans 12:12 – “Be JOYFUL IN HOPE, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
1 Thessalonians 5:8 – “But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the HOPE OF SALVATION as a HELMET.”
Hebrews 10:23 – “Let us HOLD UNSWERVINGLY TO THE HOPE WE PROFESS, for He who promised is faithful.”
Titus 2:13 -“Looking for the BLESSED HOPE, and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior.”
Titus 3 :7 – “…so that being Justified by His Grace we should be made heirs according to the HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE.”
Colossians 1:27- says “Christ in you THE HOPE OF GLORY
In these verses we will see words like. Living hope, Hope as an anchor. Hope that is secure. Hope within us. A hope that does not disappoint. A joyfulness in hope. Hope of salvation. A hope we profess. A Blessed Hope. Hope of eternal life. The hope of glory. These are powerful words. Hope it seems is something else when God moulds it into our lives. With Jesus comes a different kind of hope.
Have you ever seen the moment in a person’s eyes when hope shines into the darkness of their lives? Actually, it’s difficult to describe. There is a quickening in their heartbeat. It happens in their souls, so to speak. A moment ago the room was filled with wretchedness. And now suddenly, the air is filled with anticipation and expectancy. Nobody speaks. There is a dawning of something profound. Hope is happening. Yes, hope can explode into a person’s life. I have seen it, and to me there is nothing better.
“What? You mean Jesus loves me?? Just as I am?”
“Are you saying I am not alone any more?”
“Are you saying that Jesus forgave my sins?”
Hope begins in a person’s life and out of this hope grows faith and love. Col 1:5 When the true message, the Good News, first came to you, you heard about the hope it offers. So your faith and love are based on what you hope for, which is kept safe for you in heaven.
You may ask me, “What about faith and love, then?” Hope is the beginning of faith and love. Without hope, faith and love remain undiscovered. Faith and love however are made of a stronger substance than general hope. For example, a husband might have a massive stroke and he is bedridden for the rest of his life. He is unable to communicate. His wife may take care of him with the hope that he will get better. This hope might diminish over time. If it does, faith and love will remain. Faith may also start to wither away in her. “Where are You, God?”, may become the empty cry of her heart, but her love for him remains. In the end love will stay behind and walk alongside a lost cause. It is interesting however, that when love is strong, faith and hope will make a comeback. Rom 5:3 We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, Rom 5:4 endurance brings God’s approval, and his approval creates hope. Rom 5:5 This hope does not disappoint us, for God has poured out his love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God’s gift to us. It seems, the three is intertwined with each other.
Perhaps we misunderstand the very substance of hope. I wonder if the erosion of hope is a consequence of our searching for hope in the wrong places. Jesus is the source of hope. Jesus in us, gives us a power to change people’s lives forever. We can go to places of dispair and shine the light of the “hope in Jesus” into their lives. Not a wishy washy hope, but a hope with a sure foundation. A hope that is powerful enough to get us out of bed in the morning.
This then is my prayer to all of you. Rom 15:13 May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.