Hope

Alan Paton, author of Cry, The Beloved Country, said in a lecture in 1985:

In such times as these it is easy to lose hope. Nadezhda Mandelstam, whose husband, the poet Osip Mandelstam, died in 1938 in a ‘transit camp’ at Vladivostok, wrote a book about their life of unspeakable suffering under Stalin. This book she called Hope Against Hope. After his death she wrote a second book, and wished it to be called in English Hope Abandoned. In South Africa we are still writing the first book. We trust that we shall never have to write the second.

Humans must have hope to exist. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Prov. 13:12) and hope erased makes the heart die.

As Christians, our hope is ultimately in heaven – “the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13), “the redemption of our bodies” (Rom. 8:23), “the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1Pe. 1:13), etc…

C.S. Lewis remarked [The Problem of Pain (New York: Collier, 1962), 144]:

We are very shy nowadays of even mentioning heaven. We are afraid of the jeer about ‘pie in the sky,’ and of being told that we are trying to ‘escape’ from the duty of making a happy world here and now into dreams of a happy world elsewhere. But either there is ‘pie in the sky’ or there is not. If there is not, then Christianity is false, for this doctrine is woven into its whole fabric.

Gary Haugen in his book Good News About Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World [(Downers Grove: IVP, 1999), 118] adds:

If there is no pie in the sky, I frankly don’t have any earthly hope that is not immediately crushed under the weight of the empirical data of despair around me. The pie in the sky is not, for me, a reason to escape from the needs of our world; rather, it offers the nourishment of spirit that has empowered Christians through the ages to serve those needs tirelessly, even unto death.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (Jn. 14:1-3).

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