Kathy Bernard – Publisher

”You will be secure, because there is HOPE; you will look about you and
take your rest in safety.” – Job 11:18


WHAT is hope? 

HOPE is a wish or desire accompanied by confident expectation of its fulfillment.  HOPE is to believe, desire, or trust.  It is a dream for something better and the food that sustains and nourishes during moments of despair.  Some call it blind optimism that struggles to reach a seemingly impossible goal.

WE have all heard about Pandora”s Box from the collection of Greek Mythology which tells how earth became endowed with all the evils of the world.     The “box” was in reality a jar that supposedly held all the sufferings and evils of the world that had been gathered up by each of the Greek Gods and put in the jar for safekeeping.  Pandora, a beautiful creation of womanhood created by the god Zeus, had access to this jar.  She had been warned not to open it but one day her curiosity overcame her common sense and she decided to investigate this forbidden treasure.  She slowly turned the lid and released the very things the “mythical gods” wanted to imprison; pestilence, sickness, suffering, hatred, jealousy and greed, and everything vile to crush the will of humanity.  Horrified, she rushed to close the jar but it was too late.  The evils escaped, leaving only one solitary thing lying at the very bottom; a thing of substance that would comfort and aid man in his earthly distress.   It was called HOPE.  Although this is a mythical tale, “Pandora Box”  highlights our need for that vital spirit we require for survival in an uncertain world.   Without it, we lose possibilities; possibilities of something made better in the future.

bible states in Hebrews 11:1:   “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”.   One could say that this explains why faith without hope cannot survive, for without the hope of what faith in God promises we cannot foresee eternal life. 
It is the divine gift that enables us to continue our spiritual journey
; a propellant that is future orientated.  If we do not have hope, we are like a car with no fuel and with time, our desire to remain or move forward in this stagnant world would appear futile.   The humanity of man demands hope, the central key that accelerates our desire to live eternally with God.  Romans 5: 5 states: "And hope does not disappoint us because God's love has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, Whom He has given us."

IN the Encyclical Letter of Pope Benedict XVI written to the bishops, priests and deacons and all religious and lay faithful on Christian hope reads in part as follows:  (SPE SALVI facti sumus”)—in hope we were saved, says Saint Paul to the Romans, and likewise to us (Rom 8:24). According to the Christian faith, “redemption”—salvation—is not simply a given. Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey. Now the question immediately arises: what sort of hope could ever justify the statement that, on the basis of that hope and simply because it exists, we are redeemed? And what sort of certainty is involved here?”

TO answer the certainty that our hopes are not in vain, Pope Benedict XVI  tells us further:   “Paul reminds the Ephesians that before their encounter with Christ they were “without hope and without God in the world” (Eph 2:12). Of course he knew they had had gods, he knew they had had a religion, but their gods had proved questionable, and no hope emerged from their contradictory myths. Notwithstanding their gods, they were “without God” and consequently found themselves in a dark world, facing a dark future. (In nihil ab nihilo quam cito recidimus)  How quickly we fall back from nothing to nothing: In this phrase we see in no uncertain terms the point Paul was making. In the same vein he says to the Thessalonians: you must not “grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Th 4:13). Here too we see as a distinguishing mark of Christians the fact that they have a future: it is not that they know the details of what awaits them, but they know in general terms that their life will not end in emptiness. Only when the future is certain as a positive reality does it become possible to live in the present as well. So now we can say: Christianity was not only “good news”—the communication of a hitherto unknown content. In our language we would say: the Christian message was not only “informative” but “performative”. That means: the Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known—it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing. The dark door of time, of the future, has been thrown open. The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life.”

THE bible stresses over and over again the power of hope; faith in what God has given to man as a gift through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is with the acceptance of that gift that we attain assurance.  How we arrive at this conclusion is backed by the Holy Spirit Who gives us the clarity to understand and perceive what God wants us to know.    

SUCH hope can be seen all around us.  There is something in humanity that propels us to think "hope" even as we are trapped in a well of despair.  On this human and an earthly level, we may hope for a day when money worries will loosen their stranglehold on us, maybe the person that we love will change, our marriages will be made whole again, we will get that career change, maybe day-by-day struggles will lessen, and all the little things we wish for will somehow improve.  It is the spice that enlivens and gives purpose to our stride and our outlook, for it takes away the bleakness of life. “For the needy shall not always be forgotten; the expectation (hope) of the poor shall not perish forever” Psalms 9:15.   If we are believers in Christ, this hope becomes the catalyst that makes us look beyond this temporary life into a new existence that has no beginning or end.  This timeless immortality is under the everlasting warranty of God.  It is an absolute.       

VITKOR E Frankl, an Austrian psychologist, wrote “ Man’s Search for Meaning”, an account of his survival in the concentration camps in Nazi Germany.  Frankl tells the story of the three years he spent as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps, where he discovered that the will to find meaning or hope in life motivates human existence.    He determines that this strongest distinguishing characteristic determined who had a better chance to survive.   Looking at the terrifying horrors he witnessed he learned to rise up and above what he was seeing and to focus on the divine vision of hope for with this discernment of a dream outside his present perceptions, he was able to envision a future not yet seen.  Through this, he survived and has lived to be 90 years old.

THE chasm that exists between the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and the unbeliever can be defined this way:   those who do not believe may have temporary hope in a limited sphere.  The Christian, however, has a hope that transcends beyond earthly boundaries because it is rooted in God and His Son, Jesus Christ.  And so, in the face of present or earthly disappointment, the Christian rests on a hope that is bigger and stronger because it goes into a spiritual realm; that of eternal life forever promised by a God Who gave His Word to someday take us to live in His kingdom.   We do not know exactly what He has in store for us, only that He has promised joy and well being forever.  And so, on faith or hope, we accept and move forward in this life the way He wants us to, for we rely on His promises, fortified by the Holy Spirit within us!

TO repeat what Thessalonians 4:13 emphasizes  “You must not “grieve as others do who have no hope”  If we have faith, believe and accept the Lord, our human drive for spiritual hope will survive.  Romans 8:18-27 tells us “In hope we were saved.”   As believers we stand, with conviction, that one day obedience to the teachings of God’s word and the salvation of Jesus Christ will bring us eternal peace.  As to this earthly and temporary life, we lean heavily on our faith that God will answer our prayers for our families and all those in need, balanced by hope one day to stand before God and be freed from all the trials, sorrows, and sickness of this imperfect world and reach the eternal joy that we, who believe, know awaits us. 

So be strong and courageous, all you who put your HOPE in the Lord!”  - Psalm 31:24

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