Paul penned these words around two thousand years ago and despite all of our technological, sociological and cultural advances they are still really the only things that remain important. Skeptics, particularly of the atheistic bent would scoff at this suggestion but I invite you to live without them. Most of us that have lived beyond our late thirties or early forties have probably tried and have found it difficult if not outright impossible to do so.
Faith is a perfect example. Some will claim that there is no God; that everything around us is the product of pure chance and that indeed something came from nothing. The very fact that this belief is, in of itself, a statement of faith (there is no way to prove this scientifically or otherwise) seems to be somehow missed by those who hold to the idea. Everyone has a faith system for if one does not then there is no reason to continue and tragically there are some who come to this conclusion and end their existence. But it is not the loss of faith that causes this, it is the loss of that which is borne from faith and love; hope.
Hope is the never discussed and much looked over attribute that is missing too much from the Christian's vocabulary and is desperately needed in our societies present economic and spiritual crisis. If Faith and Love were dating Hope is the unwanted third wheel in the church much like the Holy Spirit of the Trinity; seldom discussed, misunderstood, and underutilized. Which is a shame because it is rather quite powerful.
A little over a year ago one of my business partners asked me to pray for the wife of a good friend who was stricken with a very aggressive form of cancer and he supplied me with a login to her Care Blog which she updates frequently for her friends and family.
To say that Maria Elena Milam has been to hell and back is an understatement. She had her kidney and lymph nodes removed to find out that the cancer had spread to her spine and left lung. She went through exotic and painful radiation and chemotherapy treatments; some which she had to discontinue as the treatments turned out to be more dangerous than the cancer. She has been bounced around clinics, doctors, treatment centers, drugged, went through extremely dangerous back surgery (left a 12 inch scar), been down, back up and then down and then back up again, dealt with endless rounds of chemotherapy to joyfully discover it working on her cancer and then watch a good friend of hers die of the disease.
How does one deal with life when it has become a personal living hell? This is what Maria has to say:
Hope is misunderstood as it has lost its spiritual connotation and context; we presently relate Hope with 'wishes', i.e. 'I hope I win the lottery', 'I hope I make a million bucks'. We associate Hope with things that we really never believe we will acquire or attain. Yet the hope of the Bible is a million miles from that definition. We cannot even have Faith without hope:
'Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.' (Heb 11:1)Hope is not 'wishes and butterfly kisses', it is the real desire see the Kingdom of God established on Earth as it is in Heaven. It is born out of the Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; that even when we don't see it that in him all the promises of God are 'Yes' and 'Amen'. We Hope for substantial things and by our Faith we see them implemented in this dead dying world.
Jesus is our ultimate Hope. We know that one day we shall leave this body and someday we will see him yet again. But this is not wishful thinking, Jesus told us this would happen and we can believe him. Dead men tell no lies and neither does the one who came back from the dead. His resurrection is our Hope. Until that day Hope gives our Faith arms and legs and even sometimes wings.
Until I started reading Maria's blog hope has not been one of my strong suits. So let's give it a shot shall we?
I hope Maria one day is completely cancer free.
I hope that my marriage will continue to get stronger and stronger.
I hope my children will come to know the Love of Jesus.
I hope my friend will find a job.
I hope that Jesus will come soon.
I hope that one moment of one second in heaven will wipe away all the suffering, pain and tears that every person has every experienced.