Building On Hope

It has been a sad few weeks, yet far more so for a family I love so dearly. The wife was diagnosed with advanced oesophageal cancer and her oncologist, with what I can only describe as a flair for cruelty, even attempted to quash her hopes of a more positive second opinion, via a cold (and cruel) letter to her, stressing the fact there was nothing more than can be done and she was wasting her time! 

Looking at her medical records, simply based upon my own experience and limited medical knowledge, I feel he is wrong. And following a visit with a specialist friend of mine, the prognosis may very well soon prove to become different. Yet, the experience  can all take quite a dent in the spirit of hope. The poet TS Eliot once said that we often had to wait ‘without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing.’

It brings to mind two people in St Luke's Gospel, on Easter Day, out on a walk, when a stranger joins them. It's the risen Jesus, but they don't recognise Him. They get talking to the stranger, and tell Him what's been going on: how they had been followers of this Jesus, and had had high hopes of what He would achieve, but, they said, He has been crucified. And then they add ‘We had hoped that He was going to be the one to liberate Israel.’

And with the benefit of hindsight, we can say that of course that wasn't the sort of liberation Jesus had in mind: freedom from the imperial rule of Rome. And maybe they would have been better not to have given their hopes such a precise content, because in hoping for the wrong thing they missed the moment they should have been waiting for.

But they didn't miss it for long. Because it was on what hope they had, however inadequate it was, that the stranger was able to introduce them to a whole new dimension to hope. Christians believe that God can take whatever hopes we have, and build on them. He can take whatever dreams we have and create a new reality from them. He can even take the flickering embers of a hope that seems to be dying and fan it into a living flame.

One of the earliest Christian theologians; Clement of Alexandria, said that ‘if you don't hope you won't find what is beyond hope.’

I live in hope for my friend, for her family and for all those who often falter in faith. For it's that eternal spring of Hope that can carry us far beyond our own earthly limitations. And this comes in the spirit of the Living Christ. 

And in the precarious days ahead, countless believers, many strangers to them, lift their names to our creator and Saviour. And in our supplications, we ask that through Christ's healing hands, that this family will discover the power of God's hand in our lives. 

"I lift up mine eyes to the hills from whence comes my help. My help comes from the Lord."

Believe. And live in hope!   

Lord of hope, be with us now and forever. Amen

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