On Not Losing Hope

asleep.gifI hear it far too often.

What is the use?

"Look at those children!  I can’t wait until we have our first baby."

"Yea but the time will come when they will be wanting money every few minutes."

"I can’t wait to go to college."

"Yea, you say that now but you just wait.  Wait until you have all of that work to do."

"I would love to take a class at the community college."

"Yea, you say that now but just wait until you are old."

You have met these people haven’t you?  I have.  They have a way of dousing most any hope that we have.  Again and again, they communicate, "There really is no hope."  (Now some will quickly say "Jesus" regarding our hope.  Yet, at the same time they live right now as if there is no hope.)

Far too many Christians utter words of hopelessness.  You’ve heard them.  "I’m too old, young, or set in my ways."  Sometimes church leaders speak like this regarding their congregations.  "They will never change.  Those elders won’t ever get it.  With a preacher like him there is no hope.  Our church will never amount to anything." 

Some of us who are Christian leaders buried dreams we had some years ago.  Now mind you, perhaps some dreams need to die.  Dreams that are basically centered around our egos really are not kingdom-sized dreams.  They ought to die.  There are some kingdom dreams that were allowed to die after the dream was strangled by critics.  Yet, should we be living as if we had no hope?   

Walter Anderson was the editor of "Parade Magazine" for twenty years.  He grew up in poverty.  He was the product of a very difficult home environment.  His father beat him when he caught him reading a book.  He was a "D" student most of the time.  One teacher, however, told Anderson repeatedly how much she believed in him.  Anderson said that she made all the difference in the world.  She helped him get into a parochial school.

One day, however, he went to class with his shirt collar up.  Another teacher told him to take off his shirt and he refused.  The teacher took the boy’s shirt off and told him to stand up in front of the class.  All the kids laughed as they saw his undershirt with holes in it.  He was humiliated.  He finished the semester and then quit school.  He joined the Marines.  Sometimes the haunting sounds of someone’s laughter can last for years.

Take Home

  • Live today with the hope that God offers in Jesus.  That hope makes a difference TODAY!
  • Refuse to have a nasty, negative, cynical attitude.  Refuse to join the naysayers.
  • Be known as the person God uses to brighten someone’s day.  Smile.  Speak.  Introduce yourself.  Be engaged with others.
  • Never, never make fun of a human being, either a child or an adult.  Never laugh at someone’s problem or their failure. 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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8 thoughts on “On Not Losing Hope

  1. Madeline L'Engle once shared that when she is asked her age she gives her real age….like at the time, I think she was let's say 58. So she would say, "I'm 58…..and I'm 12 and I'm 21 and 18 and 9..etc." She celebrated the fact that one can be whatever age they've ever been if they will only tap into the youthful and child-like ways of the past. I suppose you could also project ahead to some age you've not experienced before. I confess….I've done it.
    You've made another home run again, Jim. I get hungry for God a lot and when I need a little something, I always know where to come. Keep it up. Words like yours are bridges to what's best in us.

    • Gary, thanks for this comment and the words from Madeline L’Engle. Thanks also Gary for your very kind and encouraging words regarding this blog. Very encouraging!

  2. Quenchers. That's my Bible word for that particular character trait. Quenchers.

    Quenchers can do more damage to the work of the kingdom than any other kind of person I've met.

    And you touched on another good point: I grieve for people who have been taught to say, "Jesus is my hope," but haven't been equipped to internalize and integrate that truth into their heart, because so much of their religion is at cross-purposes to the life Jesus offers.

    • “Quenchers.” Nick, I will have to remember that word. You are so right, they can do great damage.

  3. Jim: Good words, as always. One consequence of what I call the alarming "hope deficit" in Western culture appears to be something the Germans call "schadenfreude". A philosopher named Theodor Adorno defined the concept as "largely unanticipated delight in the suffering of another which is cognized as trivial and/or appropriate.” See the Wikipedia article for a nice summary: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schadenfreude especially the “In Popular Culture" section. John Portmann (When Bad Things Happen to Other People, Routledge 2000) is also a leading thinker in this area. I reference his book in my paper on human indignity. I truly believe that this modern societal ailment (from reality TV shows to the Simpsons to almost anywhere you care to turn) is directly correlated to a loss of hope in Western culture. Jim, you offer a good “take home” message in suggesting that WITH hope we “never make fun of a human being, either a child or an adult. Never laugh at someone's problem or their failure.”

  4. Charlie,
    I really like your comment. (Thanks for your persistence. 🙂 The quote by Theodor Adorno really has my interest. Wow! I will follow the link.

    I had not thought about the correlation between some of the entertainment in pop culture and the loss of hope. Would love to hear more from you regarding this.

  5. I love this post Mr. Martin, especially the first section regarding hope. Good reminder. I love your blog by they way! It's definitely bookmarked on my computer and I look forward to new ones!! Miss ya'll!

  6. Kyrbie!
    So good to hear from you. Thanks for your kind words regarding this post and the blog. That means a lot.

    Miss you guys. Come by sometime when you are home.