When I was a kid growing up on the farm, it was a treat to go into town on Saturday night to shop. While my dad and mom were shopping, I got to go to the picture show. The main feature was usually a Western, but the thrilling part was the serial, a 10-minute adventure. And always at the end, the hero would almost certainly die or so we thought. Perhaps, he would be chasing the "bad guys" into an old mine; just as the hero entered the mine, the crooks set off an explosion -- there was no way our hero could survive!
Yet, we came back the next week, hoping, hoping that he had survived.
Hope is (A) that feeling that what we desire will come to pass; (B) looking forward with anticipation to some happening or event, or to some person we expect. There are many great sayings concerning "hope."
Shelley wrote, "If winter comes, can spring be far behind?"
It was Cervantes who wrote: "While there is life, there is hope."
I like most what D. Malloch said, "Ah! That's the reason a bird can sing -- On the darkest day he believes in spring!"
Where is our hope? What do we hope for? Too often, we place our hope in people or things that will not last. People pass away; things perish; hope is gone. I trusted him and he betrayed me. I believed in her, and now she's gone. I thought/hoped that my job was secure -- it wasn't. I wanted the best for my children, but they disappointed me. I prayed/hoped for good health; so why am I suffering and in so much pain? I hoped for the "good life" -- but life has turned sour and rotten. I came back, week after week, hoping my hero would survive. Because we pin our hopes on people and things that cannot last, after a while, we give up believing and we lose hope.
Dante, in his writings, penned these words and placed them over the entrance to Hell, "All hope abandon, ye who enter here!" Whenever we lose hope, life becomes a hell-on-earth -- chaotic, confusing, catastrophic. Christians, however, base their hope on the ONE who is ever-lasting and never-failing!
I like what Minnie Haskins wrote, "I said to the man who stood at the gate-of-the-year, 'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.' He replied, 'Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God -- that will be better than a light and safer than a known way.' So, I went forth, and finding the hand of God, trod gladly into the night, and He led me towards the hills and the breaking of the day.'"
Could she have been reading Paul's Letter to the Romans? Paul writes about the Christian's hope. "Through Jesus Christ we have obtained access to God's grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God." Believing I, and following Jesus Christ is better than a light, and safer than knowing the way! Later, Paul would say, "...suffering produces endurance; endurance produces character; character produces hope -- and this hope does not disappoint us!" Since our hope is in the One who is eternal, we can face life with anticipation and face death without fear.
Our hope lies in the God who promises us much and always keeps his promises. Whenever life loses its luster, God will restore its glow. When we feel frustrated and betrayed, we can still trust the God who never betrays us nor forsakes us. Whenever we lose the people we rely on/depend on, God is with us -- always reliable, always dependable. When we lose our security, our money or our job, God promises to somehow provide for all our needs. Whenever we pray for good health and our illness remains, God reminds us (A) sometimes, I will hear your prayers and heal your ills, or (B) sometimes, I will ask my friend, Death, to come and release you from your suffering and pain.
We're giving Death a bum rap; Death is the bad guy who robs us of life. Yet, it's Old Man Death who comes and sets us free from our human bonds; its Death who ushers us into the New Jerusalem -- where there is no suffering, no sorrow, no pain, no parting, no more death.
Alexander Pope reminds us that, "Hope springs eternal in the human heart..."
Our hope is in the God who is eternal, and who never fails us!
So, let's place our human hands into the hand of God, and we will find that it's far better than having a light and much safer than knowing the way!
Don Kuehle is a retired United Methodist minister who lives in Jackson. Opinions expressed are those of the author.Religion on 02/06/2020
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