There is a line in the Rend Collective song ‘Build Your Kingdom Here’ which I would love to see painted large on the streets in Goldthorpe: ‘Come, set our hearts ablaze with hope like wild fire in our very souls.’ Hope seems to me to be the virtue we need to embrace whole-heartedly in dark and discouraging times.
Come set our hearts ablaze with hope Like wildfire in our very souls Holy Spirit come invade us now
Hope keeps us going. Hope reminds us that our current situation is only part of the story. It’s not the full picture. Hope declares that death, divorce, poverty, injustice, redundancy, failure, defeat and despair do not have the last word. Hope is what sets humans apart from every other creature. Hope fuels us and keeps us positive amidst difficulties and doubt. Paul lists hope as one of the three enduring virtues in 1 Corinthians 13 (alongside faith and love). Hope is indeed the fuel for faith and love.
Hope can seem very fragile to us at times, but it is actually very tenacious. If you wonder how you can ever hope again because you feel totally crushed, Paul tells us how: we can have hope ‘through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide.’ (Rom 15:4) People who read the Bible on a daily basis have access to encouragement beyond themselves and can therefore have hope.
Endurance is another Biblical word we should not overlook. ‘Hupomone’ – also translated as ‘patience’ and ‘perseverance’ – is the glue we need to get through life.
In 2018 in our Summer Fun events, we created a button map of South Yorkshire which still hangs in the community room in our church building. In order to stick metal, plastic and wooden buttons to fabric, we used Gorilla Glue. It was my first experience of using the glue, and by the end of the map session, I was covered in it. It took days to peel it all off my fingers, which seemed completely numb, such was the efficacy of the glue in covering over the sensitive part of my fingertips! Once attached, this glue did not let go!
We need to take on perseverance and endurance, fortified and encouraged by the Scriptures where we read of ordinary people and how their hope in God found fulfilment:
Abraham, trusting a promise that he would have a son for 25 years before he held baby Isaac in his arms
David, enduring years on the run, hiding in caves and feigning madness before foreign kings as a survival tactic, before he finally became King of Israel himself
– Hope sustaining people and proving to them in tangible ways that God is able to fulfil every promise He has made.
God is the God of hope. (Rom 15:13) We, therefore, can ‘overflow with hope.’ (Rom 15:13) I long to see that overflow of hope into Goldthorpe, into our community, as God gives us so much hope it spills over to those who currently have no hope.