“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13
It’s been an ‘eventful’ few months, when you befriend every type of pain and anguish, it seems like the most radical thing you can do is be hopeful.
But what does hope really mean? We say it almost interchangeably with ‘wish’ or ‘good luck’. Understood correctly, it is not to be confused with a whimsical naivety…hope is anything but fluffy, it’s as solid as an anchor.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.”
It is not to be mistaken for escapism and retreat because that would be a direct contradiction to the command, “Take up your cross and follow me.” And it’s never been about indifference.
I’ve been thinking about what hope IS, and have come to the conclusion that it may be simply realising that often times, the new wine is yet to come. Hope is the power of a conviction that the life built on faith will produce its fruits. Hope is the confidence that, despite all darkness and sin, the light of the loving forgiveness of God is upon us to do, with us and for us what we can’t. It’s about redeeming what was lost.
Hope, is to proclaim that we believe in the Resurrection. It is to look at the nails and the cross and see victory and salvation for all mankind.
Hope is the part of the three fold cord (faith, hope, love), that cannot be broken. Because, one of the most important things I have learnt is that, hope is not just nice, it is necessary. When it really feel like you are drowning, hope is the air that keeps us breathing.
“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.'”
Abraham had a hope beyond hope. Where all human logic and wishful thinking had expired, he remained steadfast.
Without hope we become cynics or we fall into despair…
Cynicism often means assuming the worst about people, their motives and the outcomes of decisions. It’s picking the dark shades out of the palette, to paint the world a shade of negativity. Without hope we are sick and we become unresponsive to the grace of God and the support of our brothers.
The dangerous thing is, it is so easy to justify, because, in truth, humanity is broken, bad things happen, sometimes people have sinful motives, maybe we know ourselves well enough to project that onto others. We can’t assume people will always do good but maybe we just need to give people the opportunity to be. With hearts and minds wide open we will see God’s hand. We see that people are good, though this goodness is nuanced and idiosyncratic, and God is great.
We see a story of redemption throughout the bible. In the book of Isaiah, we meet a Pagan king named Cyrus. Despite the fact he didn’t know God, God still used him to encourage the Jewish people to return to their homeland and rebuild their temple.
It was written about him…
“Open before him the double doors,
So that the gates will not be shut:
‘I will go before you
And make the crooked places straight;
I will break in pieces the gates of bronze
And cut the bars of iron.
I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
I make peace and create calamity;
I, the Lord, do all these things.”
Finally, Let us remind each other to flee from the dark gripping forces of despondency and despair. With a renewed hope, let us walk in the palm of His sovereign hand.
‘” . the force of despondence . . . overwhelms him and oppresses his soul; and this is a taste of hell because it produces a thousand temptations: confusion, irritation, protesting and bewailing one’s lot, wrong thoughts, wandering from place to place, and so on”
(Saint Isaac of Syria, 6th c., Directions on Spiritual Training).
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
“For in this hope we are saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”