Monday, November 8, 2021

The AMAZING HOPE that saves us!

Why Hope is a Virtue?

And that too a strong one!

By Atul Kumar

Red: “Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”

Andy Dufresne: “Remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

Red: “I remember thinking it would take a man 600 years to tunnel through the wall with it (rock hammer). Andy did it in less than 20.”

(From The Shawshank Redemption)

What is hope?

Hope is an instinct — for survival and progress.

Hope is the most poetic virtue in its essence. In hope, expectations and imagination unite together to draw an attractive (or less repulsive) picture of the future.

God has placed hope in our hearts, and without it, all is vanity. We busy ourselves arranging the little pieces of life, hoping that it will all make sense one day. It is in hope that we suffer pain and misery, knowing that soon it will be over (strength alone will surely fail us if we are hopeless). It is in the hope of success that we begin all extraordinary and improbable endeavours. Truly, Dostoevsky said, “To live without hope is to cease to live”.

But we do not understand hope, at least not as much as we ought to. And it doesn’t do us much good. It, many times, leaves us grappling for faith when all we can afford and need is hope. Sometimes, it is painfully mysterious to cry out, “Lord, help my unbelief,” with a hopeless heart, and receive no answer.

It is a mistake to consider hope as underdeveloped faith; and, in its power, as merely a shadow of faith. On its own, we do not value hope very much, but it is essential and irreplaceable.

Hope is like having a compass in the middle of the ocean — it doesn’t show us the desired shore, neither the perfect way to it, nor the difficulties on the way and how to overcome them, but it shows the direction to the shore, without which we will indeed be lost. “Hope” is the thing with feathers. (Emily Dickinson)

There is an ocean of mist between hope and its object, which our rational minds cannot see through. Hope, the thing with feathers, flies from our hearts to those faraway places and brings back a vision of possibilities. It is an echo of our expectations, reflected back by distant realities.

So, hope lets us live for possibilities that we cannot see or dare to believe yet. Hope does not reveal the shape or substance of things we hope for but betrays the possibility of their existence. It does not reveal how our dream will be fulfilled and what steps we need to take; it just reveals the dream and leaves the rest to take care of itself.

And who knows, it may be hope that gives birth to those possibilities in the first place.

To hope against hope 

Of the many Christian virtues, three stand out — love, faith, and hope. 

And of these three, hope is least understood, most neglected, and its virtue and power mostly overlooked. We well know God as God of love but only faintly as God of hope. 

We accuse ourselves if we fall into disbelief or become loveless, but becoming hopeless is not fussed about so much. Not so, in the Bible. The distress of Job, apart from his suffering, was that his hope was cut off. So he gathered all that remained of his confidence and declared to himself and his accusers, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him…” (Job 13:15, ESV). 

And when the Psalmist’s soul fainted, he said, “My soul faints for Your salvation, but I hope in Your word” (Psalms 119:81, NKJV). From what it seems, hope is the virtue of a dejected, depressed, and fainting soul that has nothing but hope. And should we deny ourselves of it? God forbid! When we are helpless prisoners of our circumstances, let us choose to be prisoners of hope. And when Christ visits us, for surely He will, and finds our soul like a smoking flax with no glowing fire of faith, instead of quenching it, He will honour the flickering hope and save us. 

Who among us doesn’t know the doctrine that we are saved by faith? But experience shows us that we are saved by hope as well (Romans 8:24, NKJV). …But hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance (Romans 8:24,25, NKJV). 

And that is what makes hope a virtue. As Chesterton said, “Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all… As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.” And as the Bible commends Abraham, “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations…” (Romans 4:18, KJV) 

So let us not think that hope is the imaginative luxury of an idle mind or wild fantasy of a dejected one, for so it is not. And since reasons are many that we become hopeless, we ought to consciously hope for the light beyond the present darkness and glory beyond the present suffering. The hope that we afford ourselves in God, will never make us ashamed but will surely bring forth its fruit in due season. “We glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope makes us not ashamed…” (Romans 5:4,5, KJVAE) Moreover, let us rejoice in the hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:2).



About the Author: Atul Kumar is a Christian. Witness for Jesus Christ and His immense power to transform lives. Ph.D. in Cancer biology. Interested in Philosophy and Psychology.

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