Hi There! Have you all had a nice weekend? I hope you did. I had an interesting weekend of introspection.
With Easter coming up and our Bible study reading in the book of Matthew, I’ve been thinking a lot about Hope and what it means to me.
Lately, I’ve been fiddling around with a few drawing programs on the computer and often use the word ‘hope’ in example drawings. I just love that word, it’s uplifting.
But why is it uplifting? I was prompted to do some research on the definition of hope and what it means for me in my life.
Here is what Google says about it:
I also stumbled across this quote by G. K. Chesterton which really got me thinking
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. ~G.K. Chesterton
(G.K. Chesterton is one of my favorite people to quote and I discovered he delivers reading material for a lifetime. I’m going to be digging in deeper in his works because I think he has an interesting and humorous perspective on things.)
So according to Chesterton, ‘hope’ for it’s own sake makes no sense at all, save for flattery. Ooh, that kind of hit me smack in the face.
I would like to think I’m not so shallow to be just flattering, and that I do have hope when things aren’t going well; more than the kind of hope that arises from the anticipation of the contents the ketchup bottle!
One of the reasons I have it on display is because it is just plain uplifting, a positive reminder. (You know, at this age it can’t hurt to have reminders of good things all through the house, lol!) Honestly, things are going well in my little world right now, I have nothing to really complain about if you minus the little things that happen to you when you get older or other minor inconveniences. All in all, I’m a blessed gal. And when you look at it as climbing a mountain, I would say in my own life right now, things are on the upward path. Of course that could change any minute, and this is where hope comes in.
It’s not that my own hope and beliefs weren’t tested yet, they were, of course. I don’t think there is anyone that goes through life all smooth sailing, and you never really know what battle someone has fought or is fighting just by looking at their outer circumstance.
The question is, what did I hope in or believe in when times were rough and what does hope mean for me now? What’s the argument for going through the fire instead of trying to jump over it?
It reminds me of a story in the Bible (Daniel 3) where King Nebuchadnezzar has Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego thrown into the blazing furnace because they refuse to worship the King’s gold statue. They had so much faith in God, that even if they were not delivered from dying in the furnace, they still believed in their salvation so much and refused to succumb to the King’s threat.
Man, that is some kind of faith and belief! And I’m sure they could only have it because they had hope that God would deliver them from evil, whether they died or survived. Wow!
So it’s really not a question of jumping over the fire, because sometimes you get thrown right in and can’t do anything about it. Thinking of my nephew’s brain tumor or my mom’s illness for example. What is going to be my hope then, or will I lose hope?
These stories, to me, they aren’t just stories from thousands of years ago. All you have to do is look at the world today and find such amazing hope and faith. Look at the Christians and so many others in the Middle East and around the world who refuse to bow down to terrorism or tyranny; who are being persecuted, tortured and executed for their beliefs even though they never did a thing to hurt anyone. These are our modern day heroes to be emulated. I don’t know what I would do in such a situation, I would definitely hope I had God by my side.
In his teachings, Jesus tells his disciples in no uncertain terms that they will be persecuted (Matthew 24:9), just because they are followers of him. So we know, if we decide to follow Jesus, persecution will come and we have to be ready for it. It’s something I don’t like to think about, but if you decide to take that walk you must think about it. When reading stuff like that I sometimes think, ‘no wonder people don’t want to accept Jesus, with all this persecution business’. I mean who would willingly want to be persecuted? What makes people so willingly follow in Jesus’ footsteps even though they know they will be confronted with all sorts of ill-treatment, or it could end worse and they could even be killed or tortured?
It’s the salvation of the soul that only Jesus offers.
I know things are more complicated than that, we could go into all sorts of persecution done to others by Christians (so-called) and non-Christians alike. But I’m not counting force into the equation here because nowadays I’m certain we aren’t forced into any religion in our ‘free thinking’ world. We always have the free choice to become a believer of something or not. Even in countries where it is too dangerous to openly speak of your true beliefs, you can still believe inside whatever you want.
I’ve had a few personal experiences that have made me a believer, but I don’t want to get into those, because for me they are still private and happened cumulatively over many years (as in, it would take too long to explain here). Let’s just say, for many years religion for the sake of religion and dogma and all that talk didn’t mean a whole lot to me, it still doesn’t, except for the word of the Bible, that’s what I use to test anything I hear or read. Too many hypocrites all around had spoiled it. But, through God’s grace I’ve been able to come to a certain point where I accepted Jesus’ invitation. A few years of introspection later, there’s still a long way to go, but I’m getting there. Wherever ‘there’ is, I’m going to let God decide and not let it worry me.
Just for the record, I’m in no way trying to argue with or convert anyone, I’m just stating my own experiences and with Easter coming up, a good a time as any to do it.
I used to think being a Christian must be the most boring, tedious thing, but it’s actually the opposite of boring and tedious. It’s a life of introspection, but it also means you have to start loving others, and that can be pretty adventurous. I also believe God’s logic is not our own. I mean, ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’..palease! Think about it though, if we really did that. Yes, it can be a constant battle of ‘get over yourself already’. I may not like everything I read in the Bible, especially those things that convict me, but if you read it with an open mind, it does make sense.
The reason Christians are told to love God above anything has become clearer to me now also, because it’s only through the love we have for Jesus and knowing how much God loves us, that loving our ‘neighbor’ is even possible. I used to be angry at God for commanding such a thing, but now I realize if I didn’t love Him so much, I could never love people. I’m not a natural people person, just about the opposite!
It really is an interesting journey and I’m learning to enjoy the ride. By no means whatsoever do I profess to know it all, I never will, but that is okay. That is what hope and faith is all about, right?
Hope and faith go hand-in-hand. For, what am I going to put my trust and hope in? Other people and maybe even the so-called collective morality? — uncheck; our circumstances or luck? – uncheck; our earth or nature? — uncheck; maybe even myself? – major uncheck. I used to be open to all kinds of different faiths, but through my own experience, following Christ is the only thing that makes sense to me. It is true we need to have some kind of morality, trust people and be good stewards of the earth in order to save our civilization, no doubt about it. But God is the author of all these and He is everlasting.
I believe God is an entity, an energy if you want to call Him that. So many people back away as soon as you say God. But God is this energy, this almighty entity who gave us His son.
If what the Bible says is true, that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and that God is the creator of all the universe and beyond, the alpha and omega, then it is a sin for a Christian to worship the temple alone. We that call ourselves Christians are to worship God in the temple, not worship the temple or His creations.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
It’s kind of like when a big church or monument is built, you don’t go to worship the monument or the building, you go to worship the idea behind it, for what use is it to worship a thing that is not everlasting?
For me, it is the faith I put in this Creator and his son Jesus Christ that gives me hope and lets me believe that there are better things coming. He lets me hope that my scrawny little sinful nature is forgiven and that this world we live in is not the only thing we have to look forward to, and that I’m even able to have a joyful life on my way there. I do enjoy the things of this world and that is what we should be doing! It is the hope that springs from our salvation and in order to have that kind of hope I have to believe and have faith in God.
Jesus has given us the greatest gift imaginable in that He has paved the way for our salvation, and we are able to celebrate his gift everyday, not just sitting in a church pew with a few chosen friends. Christians are reminded of it with the Easter festivities, but should keep it in our mind every day.
Born Again to a Living Hope
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, ~ 1 Peter 1:3-6
This is what hope means to me.
When you become a Christian, it’s like discovering a treasure, and you want to share it with the whole world, but the world doesn’t want to hear it. Your natural state of being wants nothing more than to be comfortable, not cause a fuss, and hide like a recluse. But the need to share is stronger so you go ahead and jump into the fire.
Take care and Happy Easter,