Against All Hope

Good afternoon from Westminster, MD!

He had to feel foolish. It had been a dream he had more or less given up on many years before, back when he was still young enough for the dream to make sense. Now, a “more experienced” man, reopening his mind and his heart to that possibility probably seemed silly at the surface-level and gut-wrenching in the deep places where we hide our real feelings. Sure, it was something he still wanted, but decide to believe again- that was a big ask. Could he and his wife, Sarah, really have a child at this age?

I do not pretend to know the exact thoughts and feelings of Abraham, the commonly accepted father of the Jewish people from the Old Testament of the Bible when he was told by the God of the Universe that he would finally have a child. From the exchanges recorded in the Bible from that moment, the narrative above probably is not too far from the truth. Most “reasonable” people would have given up on the promise Abraham had received and while, it doesn’t appear that he had given up, it does appear that he was baffled as to how it would happen. Not only that, he was to become the father of many nations with more descendants that the stars in the sky. So far they had zero. It seemed like a stretch.

Paul, the Follower of Jesus who wrote many of the letters contained in the New Testament of the Bible, had this to say about Abraham- “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘so shall your offspring be.'” (Romans 4:18 NIV) Abraham, despite his circumstances, held onto hope and changed his life and the course of history. Abraham had a hope that made a tangible difference in his life.

This is the “noun” type of hope from last time. When hope is based on little more than positive feelings and “fate” it does almost nothing to change our outlook about the future and the way we live. This is the expression of hope Benjamin Franklin and Evan Esar who said, “Hope is tomorrow’s veneer over today’s disappointment,” were talking about. Really, I have to agree with them. If hope is based on my own ability to generate “positive vibes” it seems pretty foolish.

Abraham held onto a very different type of hope. The type of hope founded on something real. A hope centered around a person. While he did not know the whole story, he knew that the Creator of the World made a promise. That promise would eventually lead to a person that many would call the “Hope of the World”. Abraham’s hope was firmly planted in the faithfulness of the one who created him. His Creator told him his life was created for more than what he could see in that moment. It had nothing to do with positive feelings or vibes. It had everything to do with an understanding of why he existed in the first place. Someone had created him and created him for something more.

The story of real, life changing hope only grows from there. We will continue the journey to grasping it next time.

– James Belt

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