by Michael Brecke, Interim Pastor
Persistent Hope! The widow in the parable that Jesus tells about the judge who neither fears God nor man is a story about “persistent hope.”
The widow wants justice! The judge doesn’t want to give justice nor does he want to listen to the widow. Then because he wants to rid himself of this woman who keeps bothering him he grants her justice.
How about us? Are we persistent in hope? Do we keep on trying or do we lose hope?
In the movie the Shawshank Redemption,Tim Tobbins who plays Andy Dufrense and Morgan Freeman who plays Red – the long time prisoner who becomes Andy’s friend – have several discussions about hope.
In one of the discussions Andy is talking about hope in a positive way and Red says, “Let me tell you something my friend, hope is a dangerous thing, it can drive a man insane.”
Have you ever thought about what makes hope so dangerous? Have you ever thought about how difficult it is to live a hopeful life?
We have all kinds of ways of looking at that, we can talk about glasses half full or half empty. We can look at life with a positive attitude. But hope is more than that. When we hope because of the presence of God in in the midst of our lives we hope with the power that God has given us to share, the power to live life in the wonder of the present moment and to experience the wonder of grace and love in that moment.
About 20 years I was taught a lesson about hope that was a huge surprise. I was attending a board meeting, not my favorite thing. I can in time for the milling around part of the board meeting where people get a cup of coffee and chit chat with each other. I saw another board member who hadn’t been at a couple of meetings. I went over and spontaneously gave him a shoulder hug or squeeze and told him I was glad to see him. The exchange probably lasted 30 seconds. I thought nothing of the moment or exchange. The next day I received a phone call from this person. I was surprised because we were not friends nor did we do things socially with each other. He said hello and identified himself and then he said: “I want to thank you for the hug the other night. I had been planning to kill myself and was attending the board meeting as a sort of goodbye. Your hug gave me just a glimmer of hope and wanting to live.”
Our daily lives are full of opportunities for us to hope. Sometimes the smallest of actions, the simplest of things can turn a moment of cynicism and despair into a moment of hope and new beginnings.
You Still Have Hope
If you can look at the sunset and smile, then you still have hope.
If you can find beauty in the colors of a small flower, then you still have hope.
If you can find pleasure in the movement of a butterfly, then you still have hope.
If the smile of a child can still warm your heart, then you still have hope.
If you can see the good in other people, then you still have hope.
If the rain breaking on a rooftop can still lull you to sleep, then you still have hope.
If the sight of a rainbow still makes you stop and stare in wonder, then you still have hope.
If the soft fur of a favored pet still feels pleasant under your fingertips, then you still have hope.
If you meet new people with a trace of excitement and optimism, then you still have hope.
If you give people the benefit of a doubt, then you still have hope.
If you still offer your hand in friendship to others that have touched your life, then you still have hope.
If receiving an unexpected card or letter still brings a pleasant surprise, then you still have hope.
If the suffering of others still fills you with pain and frustration, then you still have hope.
If you refuse to let a friendship die, or accept that it must end, then you still have hope.
If you look forward to a time or place of quiet and reflection, then you still have hope.
If you still buy the ornaments, put up the Christmas tree or cook supper, then you still have hope.
If you can look to the past and smile, then you still have hope.
If, when faced with the bad, when told everything is futile, you can still look up and end the conversation with the phrase…”yeah…BUT.,” then you still have hope.
Hope is such a marvelous thing. It bends, it twists, it sometimes hides, but rarely does it break. It sustains us when nothing else can. It gives us reason to continue and courage to move ahead, when we tell ourselves we’d rather give in.
Hope puts a smile on our face when the heart cannot manage.
Hope puts our feet on the path when our eyes cannot see it.
Hope moves us to act when our souls are confused of the direction.
Hope is a wonderful thing, something to be cherished and nurtured, and something that will refresh us in return.
And it can be found in each of us, and it can bring light into the darkest of places. Never lose hope! ~Author unknown~
Another one of those unknown authors has penned these seven characteristics of hope:
- Hope “lights a candle” instead of “cursing the darkness.”
- Hope opens doors when despair closes them.
- Hope looks for the good in people instead of harping on the worst in them.
- Hopes discovers what can be done instead of grumbling about what cannot be done.
- Hope draws its power from a deep trust in God and the basic goodness of humankind.
- Hope regards problems, small or large, as opportunities.
- Hope cherishes not illusions, nor does it yield to cynicism.
Andy Dufrense sums up hope in the simplest of terms: “Hope”, he says, “is a good thing, maybe the best of good things, and no good thing ever dies.”
Jesus tells us the story of the persistent woman and a cynical and unbelieving judge for a purpose. When we come to Christ with our dreams and our needs, when we dare to know Christ; we dare to hope in Christ. That hope is both a hope for life now and a hope for life everlasting. It is not something that has limitations. It is the best of the best and a good that is unique. It is the good that never dies. It is the Christ that continues to live and to love and to be made manifest in us. It is the wonder of what it means to have God come to us to walk along side us hold our hand and to hope with us.