No matter how dark things can get, no matter how desperate things appear – there is always hope. To use the old metaphor, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. And this simple fact is true at both the individual and the collective levels.
How can I say this? Am I pretending that somehow everything will come right for individuals and for humanity in this world, that we will reach a point where evil and subterfuge are ended? Surely that’s pie in the sky, and dangerous: is there anything more cruel than to give someone or some group false hope?
This cast-iron hope that I am talking about is rooted in – faith in God. It is God, who in this world appears to be so absent, who will nonetheless bring all things together for the good: all will be well, and all manner of things will be well. In His time, in His way, in His kingdom.
Someone may say: “I know a child who died of a wasting illness, and no medicine, no prayers made any difference. The child died. There was no hope in that situation.”
The only answer I can give in such a dreadful situation, and words are limited, is that not even death can separate us from God’s love. If all your focus is on this world, this life, then you miss the point – God’s point. Nothing and no one is ever lost to God. Some would even say that death is the final healing. Thus the inevitability of our death does not negate a blessed hope – and I have sat with people who have died in that wonderful hope.
We are never promised that everything will be rosy in this life. God certainly has never promised that – in fact He affirms the cross, both in His word and in His example.
Hope obviously concerns the future but it radically affects the present. If we have a current suffering, perhaps a serious illness, but we are assured we will get better and we will be cured, then we have hope, and that hope gives us a strength today which often helps to promote our recovery. There is a story told of a woman who set out to swim the English Channel – twenty one miles across at the narrowest point. A considerable swim, but she was a strong and experienced swimmer, and she was doing really well, and almost at the coast of France, when a sudden fog came down on the water. Immediately she started to struggle and after a short while gave up and climbed into the support boat. She later said: “If only I could have seen the cliffs.”
Faith in a loving God is somewhat like seeing the cliffs, being able to sense the destination or the end point of our suffering. God offers all of us this hope today, because as I say, hope concerns the future but it massively impacts on our present. Real hope can put a ‘spring in our step’. It can even bring a deep joy in the midst of difficulties.
A thought – when someone’s life is so painful and bleak that they commit suicide – could that be in some way an implicit hope in eternity?
There is always hope. Praise Him.