What about Hope?

“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this?  Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.  We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors.  Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope.  Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you.  I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.  All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent.  And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.  Lord, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep these desires and thoughts in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you.  And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, statutes and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.”

  • 1 Chronicles 29:14-19

You will be secure, because there is hope;
    you will look about you and take your rest in safety.
You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid,
    and many will court your favor.
But the eyes of the wicked will fail,
    and escape will elude them;
    their hope will become a dying gasp.”

  • Job 11:18-20

“Hence, nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.”

  • C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name
On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand”

  • Edward Mote, The Solid Rock (My Hope is Built on Nothing Less)

Have you ever had one of those mornings when you decide to write about hope, you find the Scirpture to use, the quote, and then you have an urgent reason to pray desperately for something?  You know, like you interrupt your writing to take your wife to dialysis and on the way home, just five miles from the house, you have an urgent need to go to the bathroom.  You pray that you will make it home.  There is no public restroom along the way.  You hope you will make it home.  You think that you made it, but then you see evidence that you did not quite get there on time.  It is one of those things that getting close doesn’t count.

I know, too much information.

But life is like that.  C. S. Lewis wrote that gratitude is of the past and love of the present, but hope is just like all those vices.  Hope is of the future.

But how much in the future?  I have seen many photographs and cartoons of a carrot dangling from a cane pole that is strapped to the harness of a mule.  The carrot is just beyond the mule’s reach, but the mule wants that carrot.  I am not saying that the mule understands the concept of hope, but he or she wants that carrot.

The mule will strive to get that carrot.  But let’s say that you have a longer pole.  The carrot is close enough for the mule to see, but too far away for the mule to smell.  Is the eyesight of a mule that good?  Are the instincts of a mule strong when it comes to sight or are they driven by smell?  I am asking these questions rhetorically, but some mule lover out there might know.

Now let’s take a longer pole.  Now the carrot is so far away that the mule cannot even see it.  And the pole is heavier.  Instead of speeding up the mule, you have increased the burden on the mule.  Now the mule, if the mule thought of hope, has the hope that the pole will break – now less of a burden and if the mule is lucky, it can eat the carrot if the carrot is still there when he gets to it – as if the mule had any thought of the unseen carrot at all.

Like I said, I do not believe that a mule has hope.  They react to their instincts.  You place a carrot out there, and the mule will move toward the carrot.  The mule is not smart enough to know that he has walked for miles and has not gotten any closer to the carrot.  At some point, you must stop and let the mule eat some of the carrot.  I do not know so much about mules, but if they tend to have ADHD, they might lose interest.

But are we so much smarter than a mule?

When we are young, we are not thinking about dying.  Okay, when I was a teen-ager, the nightly news showed airplanes in Vietnam, being filled with body bags.  I thought more about dying than the average teen these days, but my son in Tennessee knew some children that he had taught in elementary school the year before who were victims of a drive-by shooting, just about 6-7 months ago.  There are thoughts by teens, and younger, of dying around the world and in some places close to home.  But generally, the pole with the carrot is too far away to see.

Then we get into middle age, with a family of our own, and we are too busy to think about dying.  We might be able to see the carrot, but it is not close enough to smell.  We might think the carrot to be a mirage or a plastic carrot.

Even in old age, we might be able to swing the pole back and forth and take a bite out of the carrot; the carrot is that close.  But we definitely do not think about quickening our pace to reach that ultimate end.

But all this discussion is based on the only hope is in the next life, when we are with Jesus.

We need to shift the narrative.  I can think of countless times that I would have curled into a ball and cried, hoping for death, because my circumstances were that dire.  But I did not do so because Jesus gave me strength.

Jesus gives us daily hope just making it through those daily things that are hard to get through.

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand”

  • Edward Mote, The Solid Rock (My Hope is Built on Nothing Less)

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

4 Comments

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  1. Sadly I relate to that trying to get home to the bathroom in time— so I actually chuckled out loud— and I offered up a few of those arrow prayers myself!!!
    Hoping and sometimes it works out and don’t not do much 🤣😂

    Liked by 1 person

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