A tale is told of a great general who was taken captive and thrown into a deep, wide pit, along with some of his soldiers. The pit had a large pile of horse manure. The general exclaimed, “Follow me! There has to be a horse in here somewhere!”
Hope is not wishful thinking. Hope is as empirically based as the latest research on the brain or potential cures for a deadly disease.
Hope is not simply expecting things will get better in another time and place; hope is alive and enlivening, now and here.
I enjoy hope. I do not have hope simply because I was taught certain things must be true. I had to put to test the faith given me. Then, that faith was reshaped based on the evidence of experience. That experience had to include not only what I had been taught; I had to explore what other persons across the globe have believed and now believe.
My hope came to settle on trust in the Gospel of Love. Either I believe that Jesus shows me the way to hope, or I do not believe. I do believe. Therefore, I must try to follow the Gospel of Christ.
With such love in the world, I have come to conclude a truth I hold dear. That truth is, “There has to be a great Lover that inspires such love.” So, while many have surrendered all faith in the pit of despair, I see there a most beautiful evidence of all. With such hope, one cannot surrender to despair, but rejoices in the gift of Life.
This hope is also subjectively validated by the experience of divine Love. St. Paul writes that “hope does not put us to shame (or disappoint us), because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5.5, ESV). Therefore, finally, hope is birthed and sustained by a personal relationship with the Indwelling Christ, Who is Love.
1. What is hope, if hope is not wishful thinking?
2. What does it mean to say hope is “empirically based”?
3. Do you tend to despair or hope? Explain.
4. What evidences of hope do you discover in your life? This world?
5. Do you sense a love poured out in your heart? Do you sense within you the Indwelling Christ, however you best understand that reality of sacred Presence?
Spirit of Christ, keep pouring your love into me, shedding and spreading yourself throughout my being, that all I am may be dedicated to you, living and serving in hope. Amen.
Brian's book of mystical love poetry,
An Ache for Union, can be ordered through major bookdealers.
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
The People of the
United Methodist Church