One of my favorite songs from the Christian music perspective is Blue Skies by Point of Grace from their album Free to Fly. The song talks about how doubt and fear can leech the strength out of our lives. They use dark nights, gray skies, and other images of depression to get their point across, but then their refrain offers the hope that just above all of that blue skies are still there, sometimes just hidden for the moment, just waiting to be rediscovered in Jesus Christ.
As I listened to the song again this afternoon I thought of the essential nature of hope, of the possibility of a meaningful future, and how it sustains us during times of difficulty. The power of hope is the power of fundamental sustenance, real food for our souls. But where does hope come from, from what does it arise? My irreligious friends, some who claim to be atheists, some agnostics, get their hope from the possibility of either sustained good times (if times are good for them now) or of the possibility of better times ahead (if things are not going well at the moment but it could turn around).
Thinking about that led me to consider how it was that people who seem to have it all, the money, the fame, and the fortune, still commit suicide. It seems obvious to me that they had lost hope. Why? Because they had reached a hedonistic dead end. The current “good” was not good enough and since they had tried all of what their material existence had or could offer, there was nothing left to give them hope of something better. Their lament, “Is this all there is?” heard no counter argument. For whatever reason they couldn’t take the next step into the spiritual realm and seek a deeper reason for hope.
Now to be honest, I have heard people call this spiritual foundation of hope “pie in the sky” delusional thinking. All you are doing, they tell me, is trying to push hope far enough away (at least in their perspective), into the unverifiable realm of spiritual things. That way, they tell me, I am able get my cake and while being able to eat it too. That is a fair challenge and while I agree that on some levels this is a valid critique, I would argue that our real problem is that we are talking to each other from different universes. In their universe no hope beyond a better physically-defined tomorrow is possible, but since age and decay steal from them at every passing moment, loss of hope is inevitable. In mine, a better hope has been guaranteed to me by God in Jesus Christ. To have this same hope all you have to do is join the family of God and you will get that deep abiding spiritual hope into your life and it will not matter that age and decay seem to steal everything, because eternity awaits.
At this point they throw back, “What if your hope is a lie?” and suddenly we are back staring in the face Pascal’s wager (see my earlier post on Sisyphus And Religious Faith). This argument appears to be a never ending circle. I think that is why I have given up trying to convert my irreligious friends. I have learned that I cannot force them from their universe into mine. Only they can make that journey. However, my hope has sustained me through some pretty dark times, so even from a pragmatic, can my life be successfully sustained here and now context, I believe that my viewpoint and my universe trumps theirs.
Does that make it true? Not at all. Its truth or falsehood is within itself. I do not need to defend the Gospel to those who will accept no argument that I make as valid, since nothing I say will ever convince them. Instead, I just need to live a hopeful, sustained Christian life, with my hope in Jesus Christ upholding me through all of the trials and tribulations that life brings into my universe. If that isn’t enough to point the way, then nothing I can do or say will matter to them.
May the grace and peace and the hope of Christ fill your day and give it meaning.