HOPE – When Everything seems HOPELESS

2016-05-15 16.17.32

Hope That Makes a Real Difference

A short walk from our home in Liverpool is a cemetery where the inscriptions on a gravestone caught my attention:

In loving memory of Margaret Evans

Loving wife of Bill and devoted mother of Ted

Who fell asleep 6th July 1985 aged 60 years

“To find eternal peace with our Lord

O for one wish: To turn back the clock and reveal our true feelings”

Bill Evans

Husband of Margaret, father and good friend of Ted

Who fell asleep 22nd September 1988 aged 69 years

“Resting peacefully – The clock has turned”

This seems to encapsulate the essence of all that is true about authentic Biblical hope, and at the same time, all that can be utterly deceptive about false hope that is so often offered in this life. The inscription captures the poignancy of the pain that families can realize in death: Not only the loss of a loved one, but also the loss of the opportunity to let that loved one know just how they had been valued. This brings a desperate desire to have another chance to meet again and to put things right.

If the inscription was written in the genuine knowledge that these two were believers in Jesus Christ with a real hope of being reunited in the next life, then this is real hope. If believers, Bill and Margaret are now reunited in everlasting peace, and Bill has that opportunity to ‘turn back the clock’ and let Margaret know his true affection for her.

If the inscription is a vain effort to mask the pain that was felt when loved ones passed away then it was counterfeit hope. If they were not right with God, then they are far from resting eternally and recovering old losses, but separate and suffering eternal unending anguish.  We need to know the difference between these two opposites.

Hope is not wishful thinking, but a basis of expectation of the reality that lies ahead. Genuine hope makes a tangible and real difference. Real hope stimulates faith into life and feeds it. False hope feeds the emotions, and is temporary, ultimately disappointing.  Hope raises the heart, and the opposite, when hope is deferred, it makes the heart sick (see Proverbs 13:12).  Hope is intimately related to faith, as we all know from Hebrews 11:1, and we must study hope in this context.

There is a worldly view of hope that is closely related to a ‘lottery mentality’. This is captured in the phrase “hoping for the best”. It is a wishful thinking that is a mixture of delusion, escapism and is unrealistic.  A lack of hope is an absence of a way ahead; a complete lack of avenues to progress. The way the world has taught many people to seek hope is to simply wish for something better, and to dream of wonderful changes or great provision to fall upon them.

Life without hope is a struggle in which most things are negative or bring negative thoughts to mind. Every illness and event presents a possibility of terminal illness or catastrophe. Hope cuts off this pattern of thinking and draws a line on this way of viewing life and believing.

Once hope arrives, the number of options and positive possibilities opens up almost without limit. The person who is living in hope and thinking with an attitude of hope is making available an unending number of areas to explore. Hope brings a mindset that opens up tremendous variety and creative solutions to all challenges. A lack of hope closes possibilities down and reduces the horizon down to the immediate and impossible.

There is a wonderful insight into what hope does for us in the book of Proverbs:

Eat honey, my son, for it is good;

Honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.

Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul;

If you find it, there is a future hope for you,

And your hope will not be cut off. (Proverbs 24:13-14)

I love these short verses. In a few words this captures the sweetness of receiving wisdom for life, and how in doing so, we increase in hope and our future is opened up instead of being cut down.

When God began the process of creation there lay ahead a truly immense and wonderful diversity of materials, color, actions, movements, living beings, varied lives and events. We know that God created the earth and heavens by faith and His spoken Word. We should also reflect on the fact that as He was creating everything, He KNEW for certain what lay ahead. God created the cosmos with a perfect sense of hope for what was coming. Put another way, God was not wishfully longing for the things that lay ahead, but that being God, He was outside of the constraint of time and knew as a fact everything about the end from the beginning. I would say that this is what true hope is based on. Godly and Biblical hope is rooted in certain knowledge and a solid expectation rather than uncertain wishful thinking.

In every area of human life there is great value in working, planning, thinking and imagining within a framework of hope. A mentality of hope enables us in anything we care to think of, whether scientific research, politics or social planning or any everyday area of family life and work.

to be continued….

This post is a re-publishing of the chapter written by John D Manwell: “Hope that makes a real difference” which was first published in the book “HOPE – when everything seems hopeless” by Thomas P. Dooley, Mall Publishing Co. ISBN 1-934165-20-4

(C) Thomas P. Dooley 2008.  Used with permission

 

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