Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Hope in time of abandonment - (Jaques Ellul)

What, then, can I hope for, Lord? I put my hope in you. For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. O God of our salvation, who art the hope of all the ends of the earth. Don't stay so far away, O God; my God, hurry to my aid! May those who attack me be defeated and destroyed. May those who try to hurt me be shamed and disgraced. I will always put my hope in you; I will praise you more and more. I will tell of your goodness; all day long I will speak of your salvation, though it is more than I can understand. Remember my affliction and my bitterness, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.'

So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he interposed with an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God should prove false, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Blessed be the God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you...

Rejoice in hope. (Psalm 39:7, GNB; Psalm 62:5 and 65:5b, RSV; Psalm 71:12-15, GNB; Lamentations 3:19-24, RSV; Hebrews 6:17-20 and 10:23, RSV; 1 Peter 1:3-4, RSV; Romans 12:12, RSV)

To hope is as human as to love. We were made to face the future just as we were made to face each other. Even in the darkest situations we still hope. Once off the coast of Newfoundland a mini-sub sank. Divers managed to locate it and tapped on the side to see if there was any sign of life. In Morse Code a message came back: 'Is there hope?'

'Is there hope?' is a question we all ask, whether in the crises of life -- 'Is there hope, doctor?' -- or in the daily despair of a difficult marriage, prolonged unemployment or useless employment.

Unlike optimism, Christian hope doesn't opt out when faced with harsh realities. The reason for the realism of Christian hope is the fact that it is cast in the mould of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

Christian hope can face any situation, because it is not based on changeable circumstances, but a settled conviction that nothing can overtake us that Christ hasn't taken care of. It is willing to risk all on the reality of the resurrection. We welcome the future, because it bears the face of Jesus.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast: Man never is, but always to be blest.

Alexander Pope

Hope -- the uncertain goddess.


Hope is the enemy.

Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer

In the subsequent years of ministry in England I have often been asked: 'What is the greatest difficulty you faced in moving from India to England?' I have always answered: 'The disappearance of hope'. For the elderly and middle-aged there is, for the most part, only the hope of keeping reasonably comfortable amid the disintegration of so many of the familiar values. For very many of the young there is only the terrible spectre of nuclear war, with nothing beyond.

Bishop Lesslie Newbigin, The Other Side of 1984

Can true biblical hope serve as a warning against false hope? In a society filled with immanental hope of social engineering, of human potential, of political revolution, we need to hear the great themes of Old Testament hope. Our hope is in the Lord, who is also our salvation; all other hope is hopeless.

David Hubbard, from an article entitled Hope in the Old Testament

With this third world war which might break out one day, with this wretched gathering which our planet now is, despair returns to tempt me. The idea that we'll never be done with it, that there's no purpose, only petty personal ends for which we fight. We make little revolutions but there's not a human end. Nothing concerning man, only disorders. One can't think such things. They tempt you incessantly, especially if you're old and can think, 'Oh well, anyway, I shall die in five years at the most'. In fact I think ten, but it might well be five. In any case the world seems ugly, bad and without hope. There, that's the cry of despair of an old man who'll die in despair. But that's exactly what I resist, and I know I shall die in hope. But that hope needs a foundation.

Jean-Paul Sartre less than a month before he died in 1980

All utopias of the kingdom of God or of man, all hopeful pictures of the happy life, all revolutions of the future, remain hanging in the air and bear within them the germ of boredom and decay -- and for that reason also adopt a militant and extortionate attitude to life -- as long as there is no certainty in the face of death and no hope which carries love beyond death.

Jurgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness,
I dare not trust my sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name,
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

Edward Mote

Who could believe in a God who will make everything new later if it is in no way apparent from the activity of those who hope in the One who is to come that he is already beginning to make everything new now?

Edward Schillbeeckx, God the Future of Man

The hope towards which the Bible moves promises a new creation that radically transcends man's own possibilities. But in promising this it also encourages him to take the steps that are within his power in the direction of this goal, and to refrain from the steps leading in the opposite direction. Anyone who wants to reach the new world across the sea will start off for the port of departure on his own feet and with the means of transport at his disposal in this old world, even though he realises that very different forces will be needed before he can land in the new world and become its citizen. The promise of the hope of God is finding strength to meet a double disappointment: some tell people to put their trust in the next world, and disappoint them by declaring that the present is hopelessly unalterable; others claim that they can realise the heaven of total salvation by their own strength, and disappoint because they ruin the present in a completely inhuman way. On the other hand man, who is of his very nature orientated towards the future, can -- trusting in the word of promise -- remain radically hopeful within the relativity of 'a step at a time'.

Hans Walter Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament

To us is given the promise of eternal life -- but to us, the dead. A blessed resurrection is proclaimed to us -- meantime we are surrounded by decay. We are called righteous -- and yet sin lives in us. We hear of ineffable blessedness -- but meantime we are oppressed by infinite misery. We are promised abundance of all good things -- yet we are rich only in hunger and thirst. What would become of us if we did not take our stand on hope, and if our heart did not hasten beyond the midst of the darkness upon the path illumined by the word and Spirit of God!

John Calvin

Hope leads us into life, into the whole of life. It encourages faith so that it does not degenerate into faintheartedness. It strengthens love so that it does not remain enclosed within itself and with those who are like it. Thus Charles Peguy said:

Hope leads everything.
For faith only sees what is.
But hope sees what will be.
Charity only loves what is.
But hope loves what will be --
In time and for all eternity.

Jurgen Moltmann, The Experiment Hope

Pardon for sin and a peace everlasting, your living presence, to cheer and to guide; strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow - these are the blessings your love will provide. Great is your faithfulness...

T.O. Chisolm (1866-1960)

As we grow in faith, love, and hope, help us to understand that no planning for the future, however necessary, no programme, no matter how carefully conceived, can relieve us of the necessity of going forward into a future that cannot be planned of risk, of danger, of hope in your incalculable grace.

Lord, be for us the truth on which life and death are built, the hope that cannot be destroyed, the freedom from which love and justice flow and the joy that has eternity within it.


Terry Falla, Be Our Freedom, Lord

God of hope, we confess that we have fallen prey to false hopes; hopes of success, prestige, influence; we have invested ourselves emotionally in them only to be disappointed,

We pray for those we see deceived by the illusions of false hope; led by false shepherds, political and psychological messiahs who promise much, but deliver little.

We praise and thank you for our true hope, a sure and certain hope in your Son, and pray that each morning we might rise ready to live each day in the light of the last day. Help us not to be nostalgic for the past nor possessive of the present, but to hold each day open to the future heritage of your Kingdom. Amen.

A Benediction

And now unto him who is able to keep us from failing and lift us from the dark valley of despair to the bright mountain of hope, from the midnight of desperation to the daybreak of joy; to him be power and authority, for ever and ever. Amen.

Martin Luther King

Still Waters, Deep Waters ed. By Rowland Croucher pp. 123-128

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