Tag Archives: Hope

Hope for a Losing Team

English: Chicago Cubs logo
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sports fans of losing teams amaze me.

One gentleman, has the logo of his favorite team, the Chicago Cubs, on the front of his car. When I asked why it was upside down, he explained he will up right it as soon as they have a winning season. The bolts are rusted.

The church has had a few bad years too. Perhaps a string of bad decades. Between a few immoral pastors making headlines, fundamentalist groups pushing extreme theologies based on weak interpretations of Scripture, and atheists arguing that God is a delusion, it is not surprising many members are reluctant to invite friends and neighbors to worship. It is not surprising that membership in mainline denominations peaked in the 1960’s. It is not surprising that the fastest growing faith segments are Spiritual-But-Not-Religious and None of the Above.

But a few bad years is nothing new for the Church:

  • Exodus records Hebrew slavery in Egypt.
  • Judges tells of cycles of decades long lapses of faith punctuated by heroic leaders.
  • The Books of Kings culminate in Babylonian exile. Jeremiah tells the exiles to build houses and marry, implying they won’t becoming home soon.
  • John recorded his Revelations during violent persecutions.
  • In various countries around the world Christians endure church bombings and burnings.

Yet, the Church endures. Perhaps it will flourish again before the Cubs have another winning season.

For thus says the Lord:
Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed
will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise
and bring you back to this place.
For surely I know the plans I have for you,
says the Lord,
plans for your welfare and not for harm,
to give you a future with hope.
— Jeremiah 29:10-11

 

Compassionate versus Hopeful

When you experience a hardship in life, would you prefer to see someone who is compassionate or hopeful?

 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
— Colossians 3:12 (NRSV)

 I am often hesitant when someone’s face expresses sorrow when I tell them of a personal hardship. I wonder if they are merely putting on a mask to look compassionate. I wonder how or even if their feelings of sympathy or sorrow will develop beyond an expressed desire to alleviate suffering.

...Hope...

But when I visit people in hospitals and nursing homes, I strive to leave them with a feeling of hope for the future, a hope beyond what we can see. I am motivated by their suffering. But compassion is not enough for me. Thanks to modern medicine, I can trust doctors, nurses, and technicians to care for physical symptoms and cure diseases of the body. But when people invite me to visit them in times of distress, I desire to offer spiritual healing.

I may frown and my stomach may twist into knots on hearing of your hardship. But that is not enough. Having received the gift of hope, I feel compelled to share it.

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
— Romans 5:1-5 (NRSV)

Are you hopeful or compassionate?