“And hope does not disappoint us because the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.” Romans 5:5
Christians are people of hope, and this hope is not just an insurance policy you cash in at the end of life. Hope is the spiritual oxygen enabling us moment by moment to bring a positive witness to a hopeless, hurting world. You must let hope take hold of you.
This soaring, tenacious hope is the direct result of God’s love that has been poured into your heart through the very personal work of the Holy Spirit. Because of its source, this hope can never be less than you expect or need. It will not and cannot disappointment because it is grounded in God, His nature and consistency. You possess a resource of truly limitless power and potential.
As a good Hebrew, Paul was convinced history had a purpose and destination. He believed God was working to restore creation, and that one day we will see all things new again. So hope both sustains you today and assures you of a wondrous eternity. You are, in fact, already in eternity.
Now I have spent some time emphasizing the reality of your hope in God because I see such a desperate need for it today. Culturally we seem to have adopted more of the Greek view of cyclic history, where we simply spin on a wheel, at the whim of fate.
A few weeks ago I watched a marvelous presentation of Carmina Burana at Episcopal High School in Baton Rouge. You have heard the signature opening piece, O Fortuna, in countless movies and commercials. Every presentation I have seen has a very serious-looking choir belting out the opening words, buttressed by a full orchestra and two pianos. It’s a powerful production.
I enjoy looking for meaning in words, so I studied the translation carefully. Carmina is full of excess, but one of the main themes is despair. O Fortuna speaks of a monstrous and empty fate. It is a whirling, malevolent, grinding wheel that renders any fleeting good fortune to nothing. In overall tone, it reminds me of Ecclesiastes, “vanity of vanities, all is vanity” (1:2).
As I listened and read along, I realized we have a choice to make. We either give in to fate and eventually give up. Or we embrace a vibrant hope that we are part of something very good in the world. I choose hope. What do you choose? Your decision is critical.
Hope has an important personal dimension. Make no mistake, hope takes energy and perseverance, but it produces more than it takes. Fate, along with its constellation of anxiety, fear, frustration and despair only drains energy. On a personal level, if you embrace your God-given hope then you have a completely different attitude to life. Frankly, hope is less stressful than any alternative. You were created to be hopeful.
Hope has an important social dimension. You will encounter many people today who appear to have given in to fate. They will adopt what I call a “hell-in-a-hand-basket” attitude. They’re dissatisfied with work, politics, their church, their favorite sports team, etc. Mention most any subject, and you are liable to get the impression that we are all going down! Those people need you and the hope you have in Christ. Do not lose your voice, and do not give in to the reigning disappointment around you. Keep hoping and keep working to make a difference. Someone today, in your sphere of influence, needs the hope you can bring.
Hope has an important spiritual dimension. If you are hopeful then you are consistently aware of your relationship to God (Greeks did not typically think of a personal, caring relationship with Zeus!). This awareness has a powerful effect on how we view suffering. In Christ, all troubles cannot be avoided or minimized, but through the presence of God you work through sufferings which lead to endurance, which leads to character, and then back to hope (Rom. 5:4).
We are often forget our power to choose. Do not forget today. Choose hope. You need it, and so do the people around you.
Dr. Terry Ellis
March 5, 2012