hope hope hope hope hope hope less hope hope hope hope hope hope more

15 10 2009

When we are at our most hopeless, we need hope most. When we are at our most hopeless, we tend to hope less.  When what we hope for slips away from our fingers each time we reach for it, that our hope becomes less. We reach, and we miss. We had hope, and it is less. Like trying to catch the cloud of breath you make on a chilly morning. It just slips away. Flap at the air as much as you like. Hopeless.

When we do get what we hope for, when our hopes are realised, we have a choice. Do we hope for more, or are we satisfied with what we have? If it is a chocolate cookie we hoped for and we have it, probably we should remain content. If it is bringing a smile to the face of a child or release to those enslaved by despair or encouragement for those who have only ever been ignored, told off or told they are hopeless, hoping for more seems to be a good thing. A hard thing, but a good thing. A costly thing, but a good thing. A hopeless thing?

desert plant

I have hope. Sometimes that hope is realised. Sometimes that hope is not. Sometimes having hope can feel like a waste of time, like trying to dam one of those streams across the beach as a child with 3 pebbles and piece of drift wood. It feels like there are only so many times you can start again but the water keeps coming. Is there a limit to hope? Yes. Yes there is. Of course the proper spiritual answer is no. But yes, there is a limit to hope. We can blather on about ‘being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see’ and have faith and think positively and pretend that is enough. Sometimes it is not enough. Lots of people have run out of hope.

And yet. At the same time. There is no limit to hope. There is no limit because the strength we have that helps us get up again is not our own. If it was, I would have gone back to bed and slept for a year.  The hope that I have is a hope rooted not in whimsy or utopian ideals; it is not hope rooted in moods and feelings and whether or not I can be bothered today; it is certainly not hope rooted in whether or not people deserve or are worthy of ‘my hope‘, or whether I should move my hope along somewhere else. But it is a solid and steadfast hope for individuals, for this street, for this community, for those of faith and those of no faith.

It is a hope rooted in Yahweh, God who created the all things and made them good; it is a hope rooted in Yahweh the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who brought his people out of slavery in Egypt; it is a hope rooted in Jesus, mysteriously Son of the Father and present by his Spirit. It is a hope rooted in God. As the children’s song goes, “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing that he cannot do.” That is hope. Cheesy, but it is hope.

What difference does it make? It means that when I can, my God and I carry the flag for hope; when I cannot, the flag is not put down but is held up by God. Maybe he helps me carry it it, without me realising. There is a story in the Hebrew scriptures in which Aaron holds up the arms of Moses, because when his arms are up, the Israelites are winning the battle, and when they go down, they are losing. This stories make me slightly uncomfortable because of the war and violence, and this context is hugely different; but hopefully you can see that the parallel. We are in a battle for hope.

One of the prayers of Bishop Andrewes, after whom our church in named, says that “you give me life, through grace and hope.” That is my prayer. Life, through grace and hope. Life, through grace and hope. And that is a hope that is as important if you are off work, or not; if you have a family, or not; if you are confident, or not; if you have a criminal record, or not; if you have anger management problems, or not; if you are depressed, or not; if you are white, or not; if you are neglected, or not; if you are lonely, or not; if you have suicidal thoughts, or not; if you love, or not; if you can sleep, or not. If you have hope, or not.

This is something interesting. Read it, and hope with me.




2 responses

17 10 2009

O come, all ye hopeful, doubtful and despondent
O come ye, o come ye to calvary cross
Come and behold him
Is he who he claimed to be:
The one who can redeem us?
The one who’ll keep his promise?
The hope for all the hopeless?
Christ the Lord?

17 10 2009

Do we need to wait until we have erased the question marks? Or is the point of ‘hope’ that the question marks will always remain? We hope, and we trust. We hope, and we trust.

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