Where is the Hope?

I read on another blog today how a pastor (Eugene E Cho) was being questioned in regards to the tragedy that has besot the Chapman family.  Apparently, his post has gotten a lot of views–and a lot of responses.  In his update, he left a question–Where would you say is the hope for this family in all of this?

I think it’s a question that broadens out–because it’s not just about where is the hope for the Chapman family:  Where is the hope for all of us who suffer?  I think it’s a question all of us ask at one time or another–some come to it earlier than others. 

This question that has been asked so many times by so many people spanning generations, race, gender, and age resonated within me.  Where is the hope?  Which leads me to another question as questions often do–what is hope?

My dictionary (Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, sixth edition) defines hope thus:

1. verb intrans. Entertain expectation of something desired.  Look for, expect (without implication of desire)

hope against hope: cling to a mere possibility

2. verb intrans. Trust, have confidence, (in)

3. verb trans. Expect and desire (a thing, that, to do); feel fairly confident that; intend, if possible, to do

So in asking “Where is the hope?” we ask:  What are we expecting?  What do we desire?  What or who do we trust?  What are we trusting for?

When staring down into the unseeing eyes of death–what is our hope?  I can’t answer for everyone, obviously.  I can answer for myself–and having done a bit of reading, and observing I feel that I know how a lot of people would answer.  We hope that death is not the end.  We hope for more beyond the grave. 
We hope to be re-united with those that we have loved and lost.  We hope to survive what amounts to crush injuries to the soul, caused by grief.  We hope to live, and in living we hope to love and to be loved.  At least it’s so with me.

Where do we place our hope?  More specifically, in whom do we place our hope?  It’s a question that for thousands of years has created sparks, to say the least.  To be more accurate, I think it’s the myriad of answers to that question that has caused stirs and conflicts.  Notice, I didn’t ask where should we place our hope–but where do we?  Because where a person actually places their hope means a lot more than where they say they ought to.  For some hopes, we place them in our own hands.  Other hopes we’ll place in the hands of others, or things–like spouses, jobs, and bank accounts.  But where do we go when our own hands and the hands of others fail us?  Where do you place your hope when every tangible anchor has failed you?  When the doctors can do no more?  When the company downsizes?  When the stock market crashes?  When tragedy after tragedy befalls you? 

When all hope is gone…but is all hope ever really gone?  Could it be that we’ve only placed our hope in that which must eventually fail and succumb as we ourselves will?  Is it possible to place our hope where it will never fail?  I believe it is so possible, although given the nature of humanity–it’s not always easy to do so.  Sometimes giving up is easier. 

Nietzsche was no fan of hope.  In fact he said, “Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.”  I disagree, wholeheartedly.  But I can see where he’s coming from.  Hope can give us the strength to endure what otherwise is unendurable.  Frankl’s account of his experiences in Auschwitz come to mind.  They could often tell when a man had given up hope, had lost his strength to endure: he’d smoke his cigarettes.  Instead of holding on to them–he’d enjoy them, so he’d have a bit of pleasure before leaving this world.  Then he’d die–whether it was from “running into the wire” or from simply giving up, he’d die.  In this respect, his torments would end.  I don’t believe that hope prolongs our torments–I believe hope gives us the fortitude to endure what must be endured.  I believe that it is hope that gives us a chance to have more than an existence–it gives us a chance to live.  With living comes pain.  It’s unavoidable.  For me, I’d take the pain that comes with living over the true torment and torture of simply existing.

To that end, I have chosen to place my hopes in one who is greater than I.  Back to the original question–“Where is the hope in this tragedy?”  My answer?  It is in the God who created me and who sustains me.  “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand” could also be thought of as “On Christ the solid rock I hope, all other ground is sinking sand.”

Those who know me best, know music is never far from my heart or my head.  When this question was asked, two songs leapt into my head.  Non-oddly enough, both are by Steven Curtis Chapman.  The first, “Heaven in the Real World” begs the question:  “Where is the hope?  Where is the peace  That makes this life complete?”  The second is his song, “With Hope.”

With Hope by Stephen Curtis Chapman

This is not at all how
We thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you’ve gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you, but …

We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
‘Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
‘Cause we believe with hope
(There’s a place by God’s grace)
There’s a place where we’ll see your face again
We’ll see your face again

And never have I known
Anything so hard to understand
And never have I questioned more
The wisdom of God’s plan
But through the cloud of tears
I see the Father’s smile and say well done
And I imagine you
Where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true
‘Cause now you’re home
And now you’re free, and …

We have this hope as an anchor
‘Cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true, so …

So we can cry with hope
And say goodbye with hope

We wait with hope
And we ache with hope
We hold on with hope
We let go with hope

******************************************************************

From the Stephen Curtis Chapman Official Website:

The Chapman family is so grateful for the incredible outpouring of love and support at this difficult time.

  • If you’d like to meet Maria and express your condolences click here
  • By mail, send to PO Box 150156 Nashville, TN  37215.
  • In lieu of flowers, the Chapmans request any gifts be directed to Shaohannah’s Hope.

 

Funeral Arrangements for Maria Sue Chapman

FRI May 23rd Visitation 5-8p

SAT May 24th Memorial service 11a

at Christ Presbyterian Church
2323 Old Hickory Blvd, Nashville, TN
(615) 373-2311

 

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