Friday, December 08, 2006

Blog Symposium - What is Hope?

"And now these three remain, faith, hope and love."
1 Corinthians 13:13

If you are a Christian, you should know that faith, hope and love are three of the most important traits believers are called to strive for. But I find it interesting that while there is no shortage of sermons and books on how to strengthen one's faith in God and to love Him and other human beings, I cannot recall a single sermon on the topic of hope. In this prominent Evangelical pastor's collection of sermons, for example, you won't even find a category for hope, while there are five for faith, and three for love.

Why is that? Does anyone else find it intriguing? Why does a concept of that much prominence and importance garner so little attention and study?

What is hope to you*?

Every definition I have heard sounds very much like that of faith, and I am sure faith and hope go hand in hand and must co-exist, but what gives hope its own distinctive identity, if you will?

The clock is ticking down to 5 minutes, and your football team is down by 21 points. Now granted that there have been miraculous finishes, but 99.99% of the time, your team loses under that scenario.

Can hope do anything? Is it a matter of forcing yourself to feel optimistic about certain things in your life despite the insurmountable odds? At what point does a hope become a pipe dream and wishful thinking?

How often do you hear people say, "One can only hope" as if hope is the last resort in desperation? Don't you think there has to be more to hope than the perverbial "carrot in front of the donkey's nose"?

There is in my life a certain goal which has eluded and mystified me.

When I feel "hopeful" and optimistic, the final outcome consistently turns out below my hopeful expectations leading me to ask why I bother with "hope" in the first place.

Then when I resign myself so as not to get my hopes up, the outcome often turns out worse than my worst fears, leading me to regret not having been realistic and hopeless enough. I realize at least conceptually that pessimism and realism aren't one and the same and either are hope and wishful thinking.

So what is hope to you? And how do you "exercise" it?

You can either leave comments or better yet write a blog entry about it, and I will link it here.

Hope to hear from you.

*I am not necessarily interested in what hope is from a collective perspective be it Christian or not. I want to know what it means to you and how it works in your own life.


At December 08, 2006 8:33 PM, Anonymous BarBarA said...

Great topic, David. I think I will ponder if tonight and write about it tomorrow.

At December 09, 2006 3:02 PM, Blogger Silent Thunder said...

I believe we use the word hope in two different ways. One of the ways is exemplified in your comments. It is characterized by a desire for something and usually optimistic in nature. The other form is the hope spoken of in the word of God. It is the same as the first with one important difference - it is centered in Jesus Christ. We can really have faith in anyone or anything, but the most important faith is in the Lord. I believe the same applies with hope. Thus, we read in 1 Peter 3:15:

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the HOPE that is in you with meekness and fear..." (KJV)

As for the distinction between faith and hope, I like to think of it this way:

Faith says He can. Hope says He will!

At December 09, 2006 3:15 PM, Blogger A thinker said...

Ha. Great topic, David. I am going to have to think about it! I will pray and write something when I can.

Thanks for prodding the thought about this.

At December 09, 2006 7:55 PM, Blogger Brotha Buck said...

My church doesn't talk on the subject, per se, but their sermons do offer alot of hope. That's what attracted me to them and keeps me coming back.

At December 10, 2006 10:56 AM, Blogger L-girl said...

Can I comment on hope from a non-Christian perspective?

At December 10, 2006 12:46 PM, Blogger The Gig said...

Good thought provoking post. When a subject becomes this deep, I chalk it up to "deep" thinking. I too will ponder on this one and blog about it. I can, however, use one word -- "want." Just take the word hope and replace it with the word 'want."

At December 10, 2006 12:46 PM, Blogger David Cho said...

Absolutely Laura. I added a clarification. The last thing I want is someone posting bullet points from sermon notes. Hope is a personal matter, and I want to know what it is and how it works in your own life.

At December 10, 2006 12:54 PM, Blogger David Cho said...

Silent Thunder, thanks for coming by.

I am not sure about that distinction. Doesn't faith say both He can and will, and the same goes for hope?

At December 10, 2006 1:08 PM, Anonymous Harlan said...

I do not customarily exercise hope, but rather faith. The Greek term is ‘pistis’ meaning conviction, confidence, credibility. As in the case of Abraham’s having heard from God about the promised son: he staggered not in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God.
If one is truly hopeless faith may not arise. But yet the Lord even in the most difficult of circumstances may quicken it within the heart. I know from many experiences He can ‘deal with me’ on that matter. A gentle stirring up within, a ‘still small voice’ which gently guides me to that trusting Conviction, which does not disappoint. Perhaps I must hope for a result; then He intervenes with promptings to faith and the directions which it should take…

At December 10, 2006 1:24 PM, Blogger L-girl said...

Hey thanks, David, I saw your update.

Hope is a reason to get up in the morning. Hope is a necessary part of living. Without hope, there would be only despair.

If I am working on a political or social cause, if I don't have hope - hope that we can educate people, that we can change the law, that we can help people in need - then I would have no energy to continue. I couldn't face the challenge. Hope is the belief that we're doing some good.

Hope can't change anything, because our thoughts alone can't affect the world beyond our control. But hope changes how we feel about our lives and the world.

You used a sports analogy, so I'll use one, too. When the Red Sox were down 3 games to none in the 2004 ALCS, if I didn't have hope, I wouldn't have watched Game 4. Some people didn't. But although no team had ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in a 7-game series, I had hope that my team could do it.

And after we won Game 4 (after being 1 out away from being swept), I had hope for Game 5. And after we won Game 5...

My hope didn't make my team win. It didn't even help. But it helped me get through the night, then the next day, then the next.

This is a small example, because had the Red Sox lost I would have kept living. (Somehow!)

But long ago, when I felt so bad that I wanted to die just to stop the pain, a glimmer of hope within told me maybe one day I'd feel a little better. If I had lost that hope, I wouldn't have had the strength to continue.

Many people who are depressed lose that hope. It's like losing the memory of when life was good.

For me that "hope within" is not connected to a belief in a higher power. It is the spirit in every human. It lives inside all of us, and that's why we bother to do anything - to make friends, to seek love, to work, to create.

I think it's in many other intelligent animals as well. I watched a dog battle an illness - then I saw her give up, and let herself go. I know she probably didn't have an abstract concept of hope, but she had the spirit of life, and then she relinquished herself to death. One is hope, one is the absence of hope.

Thanks for opportunity to think about this and express my thoughts.

At December 10, 2006 4:03 PM, Blogger Just Rannin' Around said...

Well according to the dictionary:
Faith is a "firm belief in something for which there is no proof". Hope, in the same Webster Dictionary, is a "desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment".

According to every definition that I have ever come across, there isn't a huge distinction between the two words. I believe that faith, hope and charity (love) are given as three of the traits that any follower must strive to acqire because they are linked eternally together.

"And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.

Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.

And again, behold I say unto you that he cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart.

If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly of heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity."
-The Book of Mormon, Moroni 7:41-44

Hope, for me is being able to look forward to life with an eye single to my faith in those things not seen but with an inner assurance that they will be fulfilled.

Now I can hope for a million different things, such as monetary wealth, popularity, dream job, travel, ect. Not that these are horrible things for which to hope, but there is no promise with worldly things. I may be blessed with them, but they are not necessary and hope in them can be in vain because I will never receive them.

Hope that will always will be fulfilled are listed in the scriptures and in which we must gain faith, fueled by hope. It is an eternal circle. Without such faith, hope and charity, life seems to lose meaning.

At December 11, 2006 5:35 AM, Blogger JustMom said...

Faith is that Jesus Christ died for our sins.

Hope is that Jesus Christ remembered my sins as well.

At December 11, 2006 8:22 AM, Blogger Bruce said...

Great topic David. I really like what l-girl had to say, her view isn't much different from christians who express the hope that is in them - it's what gets us through this temporary home of ours.


At December 11, 2006 11:02 AM, Blogger SUPER said...

For me, HOPE is what gets me to FAITH.

I have hope for certain things to happen and for people to do as they say they will. Hope helps you fight past your fears, doubts, and anxieties. Once I find that hope within myself, I realize that with faith, those things I am hopeful for...will indeed happen!

At December 11, 2006 9:08 PM, Blogger David Cho said...

That is beautiful, Laura. I think it is in all of us, and the question is what to do with it.

Speaking of animals, I have seen TV programs where dogs get their legs amputated, and after surgery, they are up and ready to go as if nothing's happened. Is it because of hope? I don't know, but I guess they don't pay attention to their state.

At December 11, 2006 9:11 PM, Blogger David Cho said...

Thanks, JRA. I know that they do go hand in hand, but I was largely interested in what sets it apart and what distinctives it has.

Sarah, that is a good way to put it. Never thought of it that way.

Thanks everyone for expressing your views. You continue to enrich my life and I am deeply appreciative of it.

At December 12, 2006 11:00 AM, Blogger Mad Ethel said...

Hope: a last ditch effort dispite horrific odds.

At December 12, 2006 9:17 PM, Blogger grace said...

For me hope is the belief in God's redemptive plan - the idea that He will take all that is broken and messed up and restore it to wholeness. That is my hope when I encounter the brokenness and pain of life.


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