Sunday, February 28, 2010

Finding Our Way in an Indifferent World

How does hope "work," how does it happen? How/where can we find strength to recover, to be resilient, when our hopes--for good relationships, for good work, for internal healing/peace, for a sense that our lives matter, that they can go somewhere good--just seem to keep getting squashed? The "world" around us doesn't seem to offer much support ("dog eat dog" and all that), and "the universe" certainly doesn't give a flyin' flip about us... Nothing, no one, appears to be able to stick together (in good ways), so now what? How can we overcome our own pessimism and remain hopeful?


Laurel Long said...

Good friends,
My understanding of hope has a prerequisite-the lack of shame. I can only rely on verses from scripture to bolster my claim: Rom 5: hope, real Godly Hope, brings "no disappointment." (I have to admit that I have been disappointed in Him, but that is because I did not know Him or understand His intentions like I should) And, Isaiah 49: ..."those who wait on the Lord will not be ashamed." Hope is so much like Faith I can hardly distinguish between the two, but they really are a bit different in character and practice.
Hebrews 11 explains that hope in its mysterious and eternal nature under-girds faith: it's doing what is right without ever knowing that doing right is making a difference in the lives of those you know and love. The shame we feel when our great expectations of faith and hope are not fulfilled is our carnal pride; I have more than plenty of that. These virtues please God but they do not necessarily produce the results that we expect from Him in a given time frame; they seem to be the most effective and the most powerful when we embrace and practice them over the span of our lifetime.I have unsaved children, they may or may not acknowledge the Lord while I live but I "hope" they will at some point. That hope is not something to be ashamed of but a virtue that the Lord promises will not be disappointed. I am not ashamed of that hope though every current evidence would scoff at this expectation.
I have hopes for many things, but if my hope is misplace He will help me understand if my expectations are not realized.
He can be trusted with my hopes and expectations. He is good. I will never ashamed of hoping in Him. If shame and disappointment are a part of your relationship with God it may be a good time to redefine your definition of HOPE.
He is my HOPE- our HOPE! Hope is a good thing, never to be despised.

susannah said...

Laurel, I appreciate your comments, they were a good reminder of what the Bible has to say about hope, particularly in the relationship to shame. I can certainly see where I've allowed shame to remain after forgiveness, in my life, disabling my ability to hope for some things. I think when we get into a place where we feel that we tend to make the same mistakes over and over, it can be difficult to hope for a positive result if we only look through the lens of shame.
The difficulty I have, however, with hope is exactly what you said: "I have unsaved children, they may or may not acknowledge the Lord while I live but i "hope" they will at some point." My brothers also are not 'walking with the Lord' as we say, and it is very hard for me to understand how it could be helpful for anyone for me to hope for something which goes unrealized. To me, that seems and feels like foolishness. You spoke of hopes being misplaced and God helping us to see that if our expectations don't match up with reality. Does that mean that it is only right to hope for 'good' things that end up happening? Forgive me for getting a bit literal, but these are questions I've gone over and over.
What I mean is this: if I spend my life hoping that my brothers will 'come to the Lord', and one or both of them do not, then my hope was misplaced. It seems to me that sometimes in life there are things that would just be too painful for us to accept as 'never going to happen', and so we hope. Is there any wisdom in this? Does God care that there are things that are too hard for us not to hope for, my first reaction is that He does not. It seems like one of those situations where our humanness says, "Well, I'll just cross that bridge when I come to it." I at least think that if I am going to hope that my brothers some day walk with the Lord, that I should likewise accept the possibility that they never will, otherwise I am setting myself up for disappointment with God.

Brian Emmet said...

Maybe a difference between "hope" and "faith" lies in the time frame: "faith" operates in the present, and hope is directed towards the future?

So hope is really about how we look at, think about, the future. In the midst of a regularly- and often-disappointing present, how can we develop the resiliency to look to the future with approporiate anticipation, expectation... hope?

John M. said...

Faith - Trust that the light will come on when you flip the light switch.
Hope - Expectation that there will not be an earthquake that disrupts the flow of electricity to the switch.

Faith - Trust that if there is an earthquake that I am in the Lord's hands.
Hope - Expectation that I will survive if there is an earthquake.

Faith - The trust that if I die in the earthquake that my salvation and eternal future are secured in Christ.
Hope - The expectation of a new heaven and a new earth, earthquake or no.

Faith - Trust and assurance, now.
Hope - Trust and assurance for the future.

Faith - Unreserved, and total trust.
Hope - Unreserved and total assurance that the future will ultimately exceed my best expectations, whether it "meets" them or not.

Misplaced faith - Faith directed toward anything/anyone other than God himself.
Misplaced hope - Hope that envisions a future that is scripted by fate or chance, rather than God himself.

imo, hope is a vain, empty wish without God and his scriptural narrative. Faith is the door into God's Big Story. Faith fuels here and now participation in the story. Faith knows that the story is ture. Hope knows that the end of the story far exceeds anything I could hope or imagine, whatever the present circumstances.

Ed said...

Charles Simpson once said that "hope is the oxygen of the soul." True.

I think hope invades us from the outside. I don't think we can originate it or manage it. Hope just rides in on what Os Guinness calls "signals of transcendence."

You are walking through the peanut butter of your life, when a word, an image, a song, a touch fills your "lungs" with a surge of new possibilities...hope.

I highly recommend the movie "Wings of Desire." In it, you see an angel whispering hope to a despairing man. I love the scene - it shows how the whisper of God can change everything.

CindyC said...

(I apologize already for such a long post my 1st time in here in a long time. I guess the coffee is really working this morning.)

I always think of "hope" as something based on a firm reality.

Sometimes we hope for things as a 'wish'. We use the word hope loosely, like we often use the word 'love'. "I hope they're still serving breakfast at McD's," or "I hope you get well soon!" They're valid and hopeful, but based on wishes.

Sometimes, though, we have hopes that are based on a reality that we know. If I get to McD's before 10 AM, I know I will be able to order breakfast. If you are sniffling, based on the observed nature of the common cold, I can be pretty certain you'll be back to normal soon.

If I hope that the Holy Spirit will meet me where I need His help, because I know God has promised this, I don't have to worry whether He will or not. How and when are not up to me, and that can't be part of the equation, but I can anticipate that I will have that need met by Him.

When I (personally) have any real hope, it has to be founded on something that I know for certain. If I find myself without hope for something, I have to trace back to what I believe about the situation.

I have an infant daughter. I have faith that she will learn to know Jesus when she's young and I hope to see her serving Him. This is based on what I know of God and what the Bible says about parents, children, faithfulness, and prayer, and what I know that God has said to my heart about her.
I'll let you know when she's 25 whether that hope has been realized by then or not, but until then, I'll do what I know to do in order to see my hope become reality. There is much that I can do in prayer and word and deed and great humility to encourage myself to keep up my hope in this case.

But "a hope deferred makes the heart sick." That's true, too - hopes that we have are often delayed or unrealized.
If, God forbid, my daughter does not come to know Him, and yet I hoped that MY effort would be the thing that brought her to salvation, then my hope was misplaced. If my hope was simply in Jesus, and His ability to intervene and save, my hope was not misplaced, but unrealized.

Should we be "realists" and expect that it "might not work" and resign ourselves to the fact that there's a possibility that our hopes will fail when all is said and done?
If that is how we hope, then that's not really hope. If we have an 'escape plan' to our hope, to keep ourselves from being disappointed, then the hope was not in God, but in our strength of positive thinking or some such crap. Positive thinking might keep my chin up for a while, but hope has to be based on what I know of God and what He's whispered to me or else it has no basis in reality. Like John M. said, "hope is a vain, empty wish without God and his scriptural narrative" - a lot of other religions have hopes, but it's a toss up whether their hopes come true; our hopes are based in the Lord, and in the end, they will be worth the expectation.

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for." Faith is what I hold on to, and use to tide me over and keep me going until I can touch what it is I hope for. Because, after all, "who hopes for what he already has?"

Joseph Holbrook said...

one of my favorite Catholic philosophers, Emmanuel Mounier, spoke about the need to choose "tragic optimism" in the face of 20th century realities like Hiroshima and Dauchau ...

Personally, the scipture that has come alive for me has been "Hope differed makes the heart sick." ... I have had my hands full hanging on to what little hope I have ... especially last fall. I am doing better now, but I find that life has been knocking the snot out of my hope in recent years....

John said...

Ahead of time I ask everyone to bare with me for a second as this is a partially true and partially humorous attempt at a comment.

I've always thought that hoping for someone to "come to God" was just silly because in my experience God always chases and wrestles to the ground anyone and everyone who tries to get away. He tends to lovingly pin us down and watch us with a smile on his face as we struggle to be in control when it's completely obvious that we are in no way in control whatsoever. I personally am of the opinion that this, wrestling with the runners, is God's favorite hobby. He probably gets a kick out of the fact that we keep trying to win when it's obvious that we've never had a chance, I suppose he's fascinated by the unquenchable desire humans have to succeed.

Joseph Holbrook said...

ok John, does "bare" with you for a moment mean that I have to take my clothes off?

John said...

well it's not bear with me is it? that would just be silly.

John said...

And hey, if you receive humorous quasi-true statements better without your clothes then sure take em off pops. =OP

Brian Emmet said...

Uh, yes, John, it is "bear with me," "bear" in the sense of "carry"--we "bear" one another's burdens. We're not supposed to "bare" them, at least not without the permission of the burden-bearer! All that sort of "baring" should have been handled under the last two posts.

But your image of God's wrestling with us was more than worth whatever orthographical errors may have snuck into the text!

Thanks, Cindy--good words, and good to get your perspective.

John said...

Lol, fair enough folks, the funny thing is that I've always used bare instead of bear in those circumstances in my writing which is a little funny now that I think about my professors reading it.

Joseph Holbrook said...

oops, sorry folks, my playful banter with John got us off track.

Sussannah said:

"What I mean is this: if I spend my life hoping that my brothers will 'come to the Lord', and one or both of them do not, then my hope was misplaced. It seems to me that sometimes in life there are things that would just be too painful for us to accept as 'never going to happen', and so we hope"

You obviously cannot control what your brothers do or do not do. However you can place your "hope" in God's love, mercy and his ultimate victorious grace in every person's life. Your hope is in God's grace operating toward your brothers right up to and including their last breaths on this earth and their first conscious moments in the next world ...

your hope is not in their choices but in God's gracious choice toward them and in His finished work on the cross on their behalf. What I am trying to say is that even when we are not walking with the Lord, he is most likely walking with us ... kinda like what John said about God chasing us down and wrestling with us until we surrender to love.

Brian Emmet said...

Well said, Joseph--thank you. (I don't mean that stops this discussion, just that I appreciated what you said and how you put it.)

Ed said...

I think it's funny that a topic of HOPE draws 15 responses. But, SEX & LUST pull more than 160!

Apparently, the species wiggles its way into the future!

Joseph, if you want to launch a really throbbing discussion, you will need to tie the topic -- culture, theology, evangelism, etc. -- to human sexuality.

Joseph Holbrook said...

we have had a few topics that didn't even make it to 16 ... but you are right, sex and lust draws some attention!

Amanda said...

I just want to say I haven't disappeared. I had some very big grant proposals due that I "hope" I will get! :) There are a lot of things I want to put up here but I want to be able to give it my full attention. Please be patient with me!

Joseph Holbrook said...

so ... should we move on? Have we exhasusted the topic of hope?

Brian Emmet said...

It may be hopeless...

Laurel Long said...

I was summoned to jury duty, please forgive me for not being able to respond to your very thoughtful and eloquent comments sooner.
I really have come to the place where I can argue, very respectfully of course, with the Lord. Having unsaved family members is only one of my "hope issue." Many of us have various other hopes and issues with God.
In a very agonizing time of despair I told the Lord that I would never have been willing to have children if I thought that any one of them would be lost. When I prayed this prayer, of course, these dear children were very lost, and some remain so. My hope has a generational and cultural context. I began having children the same year that abortion was made legal. Contraception was still in its experimental stages and physicians were giving free birth control to anyone who would take them. Because of our suspicions about the safety of birth control and the new controversy of abortion, Billy and I decided that we would choose "Children are a blessing from the Lord." I had to remind the Lord about this where my faith began and where my hope was being undermined. Or was He reminding me?
My point really is that, no matter what our "hope issue" is, no matter what the outcome of our hope is, our hope is something that is registered in eternity, it is a part of its framework and I think by hoping we are practicing to be a part of that environment. We are not necessarily responsible for the results, but somehow that hope in God's completely righteous, just and loving responses to our hope is the coveted prize.
I think our Calvinistic prejudices cast a very dark shadow on God that He is stingy with salvation. He is not. If He could save some of our church fathers, then He can save our brothers, sons, daughters, sisters, etc.
You are thinking right Susannah,keep thinking to Him. He know our thoughts and wants be to a part of them.

Laurel Long said...

I would like to propose a couple of topics, but I am unfamiliar with the objective of this particular blog.
1.could we, just for fun post Luther's 95 thesis? Just think this common annual tradition of nailing a piece of paper with complaints on it could actually change the history of Western Civ of which we are a by-product.
Could we evaluate what in principle is currently relevant?
HEy, it's Easter, why are we Protestants?

Laurel Long said...

2. Do we really identify with our Puritan heritage?
I am more and more a Tory as I study history. Just thinking.

Joseph Holbrook said...

good comments Laurel. I especially agree about the dark shadow of Calvinism ... although I personally respect Calvin I think some of his teaching had some negative consequences.

I really don't think there is a specific objective for this blog, other than perhaps to stimulate the formation of a community of conversation around significant cultural and biblical issues. A place for processing.

Laurel Long said...

Thanks Joseph,
Yes, I agree, I do respect Calvin also, but when I read about his approval of the burning of Savanorola, Catholic, (I should have looked up the accurate spelling of his name), my heart nearly stopped, literally.
Thank you for clarifying the objectives of this blog, I do approve of your goals completely.
My comments are just that-comments.
I "hope" that my comments do not sound preachy or sermonizing.
However, I do offer them in the spirit of common ground.

Laurel Long said...

By the way, my hope is that we have not finished with the subject!!!!!

Joseph Holbrook said...

we all have the potentional to be a Calvin, or an Iquisitor. That is the problem when religious gains some kind of temporarl power. We want to "make" things right ... or as someone in this blog put it two or three topics ago, we want "control" society to make it conform to the kingdom of God ...

"which kingdom you ask?" well... the kingdom of God as it is... as I understand it and beleive it (says the religious ideologue).

And then the body count begins ... it has happened many times before in history and it would be foolish to think that the people of God will not once again resort to murder in the name of God. There are people who occasionally contribute to this blog, well meaning, God-loving people, who, under the right circumstances, would pull the trigger in God's name and for the sake of the "kingdom" ...

now how do we get back to hope? I fear i have muddied the waters...

John M. said...

I just finished browsing the word "hope" in my ESV on-line Bible. In that translation there are nearly 1200 references to "hope".

Based on my brief skim of these scriptures it appears to me that biblical hope is rooted in God and what he says or has said.

Any hope outside of those boundaries is false or "mis-placed".

It would seem that if we allow our hope to be based in our own desires, dreams, wishes plans etc., or if we allow our hope to be based on circumstances, expectations or a sense of cultural entitlement, even "spiritual" entitlement that we will be disappointed and our hearts will grow sick, as the verse says.

If our hope in God is based on a distorted view of who he is then we can end up heartsick. Good hope and good theology seem to be closely related.

But if our hope is truely anchored in him, then we become resilient. Our hope is in HIM, not in our expectations or in what we think he will or should be and do.

Kind of like a three-year-old. He can rebel, be stubborn, get disciplined, cry about his food etc. etc. But at the end of the day he loves and trusts his Mommy and Daddy unconditionally.

He doesn't analyze their motives or second-guess their decisions. Wherever they go he goes, whatever they say he believes. He just goes with the flow they establish.

He doesn't question their veracity or thier ability to protect him and care for him. He knows they will be there, and that's really all that matters.

He isn't sophisticated enough to see their flaws, to understand that they are fallable and weak or to question anything they say or do.

Did Jesus mean something like this when he said that unless you become like a little child you cannot enter the Kingdom of God?

Of course we know that a three-year-old's view of his parents is skewed.

When he hits adolescense, they suddenly don't know anything and can't do anything right. In fact he has moments that he wishes they weren't even his parents.

As he moves into adulthood and middle to late life, he gains a whole new, yet nuanced view of his parents.

The amazing reality is that the three-year-old perception of his parents is the most realistic perception we can have of God.

There is no way a three-year-old can fathom what his parents are doing, the decisions they're making or how they are thinking. He doesn't even try. What he does know is that today, tomorrow and forever will be just fine becaue Mommy and Daddy are there. He has unconditioinal trust for them.

Perhaps we too often relate to
God as the know-it-all adolescent who wants to go to the mall with his friends. We also sometimes, perhaps, skew God when we relate to him as the flawed, but repsected parent of the older more mature adult.

What if we hoped like a three-year-old?

Yep, Daddy has everything in hand, just grab his hand and go.

John M. said...

We cross-posted, Joseph. The issues you're raising could be the topic for a future post.

Brian Emmet said...

The gentlest of reminders, dear friends, to do what we can to keep our posts as succinct as possible, lest it become difficult for others to get their words in edgewise.

No quarrels with anyone's content; sometimes there can be a wee bit too much of it! And no one need feel picked upon; from time to time everyone needds a friendly reminder, right?

I liked Joseph's phrase, "a community of conversation."

John M. said...

Ahem... mine seemed long because I had so many paragraph breaks! :)

I was just thinking. It seems that we sometimes use the word "hope" when we really mean "wish" -- as in I wish spring were here. We really do "know/hope" that spring will come, but we wish it would hurry.

A lot of things I wish for would be enjoyable if they happened: early retirement, a hot rod, an around-the-world cruise with my wife. But if I make those kinds of things part of my expectations and hope, then I will probably get disillusioned. If I feel that I'm entitled to them, then I may get heartsick or angry with God.

Perhaps we should separate our wishes from our hope. I hope I have a long healthy life, but it's actually a wish, there's no guarantee. What I hope for is that I can be fruitful and experience God's presence and His Kingdom (righteousness, peace and joy) no matter how long I live or my state of health.

John said...

Wait we can't pick on people? Man that's no fun. =OP

By the way John wanted to ask what you thought about hoping for the things that we desire. The reason for this is that I'm pretty sure the bible states that God wants to give us the desires of our hearts. So if we hope for the desires of our hearts (although of course we often don't know what we really want) shouldn't that hope be fulfilled rather than make us grow weary?

As a side note, if God really does give us the desires of our hearts, then timing is a bitch.

Laurel Long said...

You have not muddied the waters. Your observations are based on the reality of what Christians have done to one another in past and recent history. Don't anyone think for a minute that the world is not watching and waiting and taking notes. When we consider the mass of evidence against us in the way we have treated one another, the way we have hurt one another, hope is exiled and out of reach.
When we consider that the Church killed its own; when we consider that the Lollards were persecuted by the Papacy and Henry and Mary, that the Lutherens were persecuted by the the Puritans, when the Waldensees were caught between the religious battles of the Roman church and the Princes of Germany during the HOly Roman EMpire, when the Huegonots were forced to secretly leave their homes with just the clothes on their backs to escape the Inquisition (it was illegal for them to leave France at that time), when the Puritans in ENgland executed their King (Charles I)which preceds the glorious revolution, etc. Believe me there are plenty of ETCS!
This is why we must keep hoping, the Church will never get it right without Him; we really think we can do it without Him and for Him.
Thanks Brian for your very gentle correction, brevity is the essence of productive conversation.

Joseph Holbrook said...

with friends like these, who needs enemies?!

Laurel Long said...

But, our enemies will, for their own purposes, disguise themselves as friends. They know how to prey on our disappointments with God and each other. We may prefer, for a time, the uncomfortable and precarious friendship with the enemy rather than the friendship of our own who befriend us now but later may abandon us. Jesus had to confront and forgive both and- will we forgive those who will not remain friends based on the current understanding and standard of righteousness and also those who pretend to be friends but betray us and who find it inconvenient to identify with us.
Does this reality of relationships destroy hope? Yes, but if we follow Jesus' example, then....?
I am sure that He is on our side, all of us. But are we on His?
I think that Savanarola and Calvin will be made to spend immense amounts of time together in heaven.

Joseph Holbrook said...

I imagine they already have.

John M. said...

"Holy Roman Empire" -- that title alone should be a clue that something was amiss.

As Joseph said, Savnarola and Calvin have probably spent immense time together, now that they're in the Lord's presence -- and not because they had to!

John, good point. I don't want to create a straw man by focusing on semantics. Like most other biblical truth, there is obviously mystry and ambiguity here.

My thought would be to hold your desires/hopes loosely because they are subject to change. Don't let them become a sense of entitlement that tries to manipulate God by having the attitude, "God if you don't make this work out the way I want/expect, then I'm going to really be upset with you, and my faith may be permemently damaged."

Be willing for God to mold your desires into desire for him and his Kingdom, and you won't go wrong. Instead of seeing his timeing as "a bitch" you'll look at it and be amazed!

steve H said...

I've been following along. Just haven't had anything substantive to say on this topic.

I do know that in the biggest crisis of my life (so far) by the grace of God I did not lose hope — at least hope for the age to come. For a while I often felt ready to give up on life in this time and space because of the emotional pain and loss I was experiencing. And yet in the worst times I was held by hope (hope is an anchor — Heb 6:19), hope in God's ultimate goodness and faithfulness, hope that this time and space is not all there is for the son whom I had lost or for me either.

Joseph Holbrook said...

reading Parables of the Kingdom by Robert Farrar Capon last fall ministered mega-doses of hope to me ... but it was not so much hope in this present life as it was ultimate hope beyond my life ... in the inevitable triumph of God's kingdom.

Joseph Holbrook said...

see Ed? We are not doing too bad...this is the 40th comment. We just had to be patient.

Laurel Long said...

I believe in Hope.

John M. said...

Is there a relationship between hope and contentment?

Is it possible that our hope is differed and we get heart sick and disillusioned because we believe that we deserve a good sex life, a happy marriage, a long healthy life, financial security and prosperity?

When our hope and desire for these things becomes expectation and entitlement, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment and discontent, which ultimately torpedoes our hope.

Brian Emmet said...

Not to be picky with Laurel: I don't believe in Hope, I have hope because I trust Jesus for the future... we should remember that God's view of "the future" is far larger, more extensive, more expansive, than ours. God is heading to the resurrection of the body and the new heavens and new earth; I'm so focused on sex, money, comfort, not dying, etc. We are creaturs of and in time, so our 70, 80, 90 years (or whatever) seems like a long, long, long time to us, especially when we are in deep doo-doo of some kind. HOwever, I think we would do better if we regularly reminded one another that, compared to eternity, those 70+ years are less than a dot.

This is not arguing for a withdrawing, pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by piety. Because we are grounded in that Great Reality (the New Creation), we are empowered to live differently here and now.

Of course it isn't easy! Hope is hard work!

Laurel Long said...

Hey Brian,
I am not sure why I was singled out as the object of your commentary. It seems to me after reading your very compelling testimony of what hope means to you that you and I agree completely.
My offering came from Rom 4:18 which has imposed a life changing dynamic for me, that Abraham, hoped in hope," my paraphrase, basically when he had nothing else to "believe in, he Hoped." It is the most wonderful safety net I have experienced when I am wavering in faith for my hope issues.
I think we agree on many levels.

John M. said...

"May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father encourage you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say. God loved us and through his grace he gave us a good hope and encouragement that continues forever" (2 Thessalonians 2:16, New Century Version)

I've been contemplating this verse. Thought I would share it.

Laurel, I don't think Brian was "picking on you". Your point is well taken, but so is Brian's. I want to comment on his point.

For a believer our hope continues after this life. But many think that what lies ahead, although good, is somehow disconnected with present, earthly reality.

Fact is, God will create a new heaven and a NEW EARTH. Our future is not to be disembodied spirits sitting on a cloud wearing a white robe and playing a harp.

I think the devil invented that version of heaven, so that most people wouldn't want to go. Just how long would it take you all to get bored if that's what heaven is?

A while back one of my students asked me if heaven would be like an eternal chapel service. I wanted to tear my clothes! If that's his vision of heaven, what would make him want to go? We have good chapels at LCA where I teach, but sitting there in that theater seat for eternity? Please, Lord, say "No"!

And he has! I believe [hope] that in the New Creation we will have productive, creative work to do. Work without stress, distraction and competition. Work as it was meant to be -- like Adam and Eve caring for the garden and filling the earth with offspring -- before the Fall.

I hope that I will get to take my Dad on the fishing trip that I had dreamed of but never got to take before his death.

I hope that we will have real relationships with real people, both whom we know now and whom we will meet then. Relationships uninhibited by self consciousness, shame, guilt and hidden secrets. Relationship with Jesus and the Trinity as we have never known, and can not now envision or imagine.

OK I'm remembering Brian's gentle reminder about length. One final issue: I know based on our last discussion that many of you are wondering about "no marriage". What about sex in the new earth? Maybe that's a good topic for a discussion thread: "Escatalogical Sex" or "Sexual Escatology" -- or maybe "The Sex of the Future".

Ed if we can somehow tie a discussion to SEX, we can gurantee a catalytic interest for us all!

CindyC said...

You guys are so funny. :) Again we've discovered, sex sells! Let's see if I can bring it back around....

I just read through your posts and have enjoyed the commentary. I also have moments of feeling so uneducated when I hear you discussing great figures and events in history.

Much of what I enjoy about these discussions is the fact that it's so much more intelligent than the short clips of other dialogues in formats like facebook or twitter, where people don't even care if they have no logic, grammar, or spelling. Here I feel like I could be learning, instead of getting dumber.

It seems that we all kind of agree what hope is. The dilemma that we all face is, how do we go back to real hope when we've lost or misplaced it?

I think that what was said about when our hope is actually replaced by a sense of entitlement was excellent. When I feel entitled to the thing I had hoped for, and then don't get it, I turn it into a pity-party. Just call me Eeyore. And we all know that is the opposite of anticipatory hope.

Which, actually, has the same effect as lust. What is it that's written in the little book of James? You want, but do not have, so you kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want.

James puts it down to motive: you don't receive it because you ask with wrong motives.

When we hope, what is our motivation?

Brian Emmet said...

Sincere apologies, Laurel. I didn't mean to be critical, and agree that we agree. I think I was reacting rather than responding: "I believe in Hope" can be a Biblically-grounded statement, or a therapeutic expression of postive feelings towards the future. You intended the first, I think, and I was responding to the second.

Joseph Holbrook said...

Hope you can believe in ...

Laurel Long said...

Oh!!!!!!!!!! please don't apologize. I took no offense, sincerely, I was very flattered that you actually and really understood my comments and intentions. Thank you!
We are on the same page but perhaps you have read the last paragraph and I am still at the top of the page. No matter, I agree with your response and your reaction; they are both vital, life giving and full of Hope.

Laurel Long said...

You are incredibly profound!

John M. said...

Great observations Cindy C. Thank you for your helpful contributioin to the thread.

Btw, I read the blog for the same reasons you express. Plus imo it's as close to real fellowshp and dialogue as you can get in cyberspace.

John M. said...

"It seems that we all kind of agree what hope is. The dilemma that we all face is, how do we go back to real hope when we've lost or misplaced."

What do we have to say to Cindy C (and others who identify) about her dilemma?

Brian Emmet said...

Back to Cindy's comments and questions. I think our hope is, ultimately, eschatological (directed to the new heavens and earth, and to the resurrection of the body). We can live in hope each dark day because we live, or can learn to live, in the light of that Great Day, when not only will every tear be dried, not only will all things be made new, not only will the secrets of all hearts be revealed and everything made clear--we also can rejoice in the hope of sharing in the glory of God, or becoming actual participants in the divine nature (1 Peter 1).

One of my favorite images of hope combines the hope-as-an-anchor motif from Hebrews and actual sailcraft. In the age of sail, ships would sometimes be "becalmed"--absolutely no wind, so no forward movement. So you would "kedge off"--you'd lower your anchor into a small boat and then row that boat out in front of the ship, in the direction you want to go, and then drop the anchor, and then haul the ship toward the anchor. Hard work, but forward progress! And you'd do it again and again and again, pulling yourself forward on your hope...

...until the wind returned.

Joseph Holbrook said...

how true Brian ... and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the church (or Christians in general) is/are in a "kedging" mode right now. It really is hard work. Not much wind at my back lately ...

steve H said...

I agree, Brian, that the most real kind of hope is rooted in where God is going in history and beyond (eschatological hope).

And that hope should be a guide and an anchor us in the present time as well because it gives transcendent meaning to what we are presently experiencing. Sometimes we have at least a sense of that transcendent meaning and other times we have hope that there is such meaning to the degree that we are growing in our personal experiential knowledge of God and also in our cognitive knowledge of God's ways and purposes as revealed in the Bible.

I have gone through two major times of losing hope. First, in the mid and late 1980s I went through a time of disillusionment concerning the way many of us fell short in living out the ideals to which we had subscribed and invested our lives. In that case, hope returned when I accepted my limitations and the limitations of others and then went back to seeking to live out those ideals (at least the core of them) to the best of my ability. Yes, there are limitations but the things to which God had called me/us were well worth striving for even if our ability was much less than I had previously thought and also even if I/we were not able to approximate those ideals very well.

Second, I struggled with loss of hope for the present after my son died at age 23. He and I had dreamed deeply about working out our faith and callings together. But he died. Hope in God for life beyond this life held me from going into total despair. But what about the here and now? That was the hardest part. But because I believed in God's faithfulness I was early on able to begin to ask God to accomplish more (of those things that my son and I had dreamed of doing) through his death than if he had lived. Only God can do that. And gradually (sometimes very gradually) and painfully (sometimes excruciatingly painfully) I began to reinvest myself in those dreams in honor of my son and for the sake of my daughters and others of my son's generation.

Hope has returned -- tested and refined. Most days now I live in awareness of that hope.

Joseph Holbrook said...

elequently expressed Steve! I felt myself drawn to your comments and close to your spirit as you were describing those two dark nights -- I can't imagine what you went through with the second time. It encouraging to me to know that I am not the only one who has gone through a dark night of the soul. of course, I "know" that cognitively, but hearing your story brings it home emotionally

Laurel Long said...

Oh.... Steve,
Billy has told me of the loss you endured, but I did not hear the fullness of the pain of that loss until just now.
We have suffered the pain of loss also, but not in quite the same way as you and yours. The Lord's heart is tender towards those who suffer such unexpected reversals of hopeful expectations.
You have my complete and unequivocal compassion.
I know you were not soliciting such responses but the courage with which you exposed yourself inspires expressions of the most godly compassion possible.
Sometimes we have a hard time living with Him and for Him, but we definetly can not live without HIm. He planned it that Way!

John M. said...

Steve and I have been "best friends" since college. I remember the night Steve called me to tell me that Elijah had been born. I admired and sometimes envied their relationship over the years. I vicariously drew from it in my realtionship with my own son. And I cherish many memories of special times in Elijah's life.

There is no way under heaven that I can even begin to understand the anguish that Steve has had to walk through. But it was gut-wrenching for me and my son the night we got the news.

It was after midnight, but I knew I had to go to Steve's home to be with him and Patricia. When Vicki and I arrived Steve and Patricia were still at the hospital. The home had filled with their extended spritual family.

When Steve walked in the door ahead of Patricia and saw us all there, his first words were, as my memory serves me, "If our faith doesn't work now, then it's not real."

Steve still had all that he described above to walk throuh, but that night, when all of us were reeling, those were the strongest words of hope I had ever heard.

Steve, you and Elijah are still role models for me. Thanks for how you have continued to sow into my son's life. When you David and I have our annual Christmas break breakfast at Crackerbarrel, it is always a poignent moment for me. Sometimes I feel a little guilty and want to apologize or something that I still have my son with me and you don't.

But we have hope... the future is upon us and ever arriving... and in that new heaven and new earth that Brian so eloquently described, we will someday make that breakfast a foursome. And, Oh won't we marvel at all God has done!

Amanda said...

Perhaps I am just feeling ridiculously cynical right now (haven't had "hopes" once again dashed in one way or other), but I wonder about the relationship of hope and faith...

We can have faith, this intangible thing, believing and trusting in God, but what about hope? Is it the same thing? That no matter how often we are disappointed or feel lost we simply continue to have "faith" in "hope"? I'm really beginning to feel that despite faith, hope is an elusive temptress. Maybe it does come down to motivation as has been posted here. What then are the motivations that kill hope or the ones that sustain it? What is the distinction?