For Lent: “Hope…when there appears to be no Hope”
If we asked ten people what is meant by the word, “Hope”, we would probably get ten answers. It seems illusive….something that we can’t get a handle on…but we still hope. Norman Fried writes about hope and concludes, ” Through hope we discover faith and the pursuit of redemption. Hope sets us on a path toward attaining our goals; it helps us determine strategies for living and it transforms our will into action. And when all hope seems lost, faith asks us to look inward and to think differently. Faith teaches us to look for new ways to live in a life filled with pain. It guides us to develop new pursuits; to achieve new victories. And through our pursuits, we encounter God’s ways and we are challenged to unite with Him; only to find ourselves cleaving to both. In the end, we learn that religion is the confluence of two parallel forces; man’s wish to create a livable world, replete with the hope of grace and dignity, and man’s need to honor and accept what is unlivable through sacrifice, faith and love.” Some words that he uses stand out to me.
- “…pursuit of redemption” In the long run, we all want to be redeemed. We look for an eternity of bliss with an eternally loving God. Redemption, however, is the moment we put our trust in the Savior. Redemption does not just start in the future, but is a daily existence. God sent His only Son to redeem the world.
- “…determine strategies for living” Hope is all important to the very way we live. None of us want to come to the end and be filled with regrets.
- “…challenged to unite with Him” Many things are important to us: family career, dreams and goals. Perhaps the most important thing that we can hope for is to feel His presence with us moment by moment. In this season of Lent, we ask God for that presence and to be united with Him.
- “what is unlivable through sacrifice, faith and love.” We look at the tragedies of the world, past and present, and wonder how people did live through the unlivable. Truly it was the ability to hope even through harsh struggles.
Job spent hours listening to his friends who brought no comfort. I wonder at this patience! (Through most of the Book of Job) Yet, this man of faith continued to believe in the one strength he had and the hope that he knew to be God’s gift to him during a terrible time of his life Even in more modern times, history tells stories of hope under the worst conditions. One such battle of WWII would appear that there was no hope. “The Battle of Stalingrad was the largest battle on the Eastern Front and was marked by brutality and disregard for military and civilian casualties. It was among the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare, with the higher estimates of combined casualties amounting to nearly two million. The heavy losses inflicted on the German army made it a turning point in the war. After the Battle of Stalingrad, German forces never recovered their earlier strength, and attained no further strategic victories in the East.” The film, Enemy at the Gates, has some dialog between Nikita Khrushchevand Danilov, the soldier who believed that if they published fliers for the Russian people to read about heros of the motherland, it would bring hope. In particular, he wrote of the Russian marksman, Vassili Zaitsev, who became the center of the writings. Danilov told Khrushchev the following: “Here, the men’s only choice is between German bullets and ours. But there’s another way. The way of courage. The way of love of the Motherland. We must publish the army newspaper again. We must tell magnificent stories, stories that extol sacrifice, bravery. We must make them believe in the victory. We must give them hope, pride, a desire to fight.” Without hope, men have little for which to live. Regardless of the country from which one comes, the politics of the time, or the belief system that they hold, the human race must have hope. It is not enough to use the word, but to actually believe in a hope that is greater than our understanding. The video below is in honor of all who had hope where there appeared to be no hope. Omer Meir Wellber and Russian National Orchestra. Pietro Mascagni – Intermezzo from “Cavalleria Rusticana”. ( A response from my friend, Mark. Thanks. Romans 12:12 from the Holy Scriptures: “Rejoice in HOPE, be patient in AFFLICTION and faithful in PRAYER.”)