Was there a time in your life when you were more hopeful than you are now? Has the world gone so awry that hope no longer seems possible or reasonable? Is hope hopelessly dead?
Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #77 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.
At the end of “Gond with the Wind,” after years of tragic Civil War, the starring character Scarlett O’Hara, devastated and seemingly defeated by the degradations of the war, said, “Tara. Home. I'll go home…After all, tomorrow is another day."
In “Annie,” Orphan Annie sang, “The sun will come out Tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar That tomorrow There'll be sun! Just thinking about Tomorrow Clears away the cobwebs, And the sorrow 'Til there's none! Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya Tomorrow! You're always a day away”
In “Cast Away,” Tom Hanks-as-Chuck Noland, rescued after four years on the deserted island and in the process losing the one he considered the love of his life, wraps the film saying, “And I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”
All these fictional cinematic characters expressed hope, something that made these films powerful, but something that now seems part of a lost past.
Today’s movies, with a few exceptions, are usually not hopeful; they’re dark, deadly, and hopeless.
There was a time, on both sides of the aisle, when being upbeat in politics was considered admirable. Democrat Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey was known as the "Happy Warrior." Republican President Ronald Reagan, the "Gipper," was widely recognized by friend and foe alike for his sunny, forever optimistic persona.
Now, it seems many Democrat and Republican politicians, activists, journalists, academicians, and beaucoup other pundits on social media, are terminally angry, perpetually offended, lacking in humility, at times fearful, or so convinced their view is correct that yours does not deserve hearing. And oh by the way, they’re nasty.
I don't think Humphrey or Reagan were clueless Pollyannas. I think they operated with a different worldview than most of the "elites" we endure today. Maybe I sound like an old guy, but I miss the forward-thinking energy you can hear in these statements by political leaders—
--FDR regarding the Depression and later World War II: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
--JFK on landing a person on the moon: "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."
--MLK Jr on his vision America would realize its founding principles: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
--George H. W. Bush on his lifelong belief in the American people: "I have spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the nation, doing good."
Like Humphrey and Reagan, these men weren’t silly utopians. They were men who expressed hope based upon their personal values and confidence in America’s transcendent ideals.
People place their hope in many things: themselves, their “inner strength,” other people—who alwaysfail and falter, talent—drive—wealth—education—beauty—success, false gods. But none of these things can ultimately provide hope in the face of hopelessness.
Hope, particularly hope in the future, must come from something outside ourselves, outside our experience. That’s what happened to the colonial era English political philosopher Thomas Hobbes who looked at nature and concluded life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” Pretty dark view, and his solution wasn’t much better, a government of absolute power.
Non-Christian worldviews do not provide hope, or if they attempt to do so, they don’t know how to deal with the reality of evil. Sin, living in a fallen world, how do we escape our own sinfulness? We are indeed hopeless…until and unless we place our faith in the Creator God who provided a way out, who provided forgiveness and reconciliation and therefore hope. Christianity resolves the question of good and evil and gives people reason for optimism.
So, when you choose hope based upon the omnipotent Sovereign God, you are not irrational, emotional, or even mystical. Rather, you are rational, reasoning, and reasonable because you are opting for fact over fiction.
Our culture’s pell-mell rush during my lifetime to abandon Judeo-Christian values in favor of the latest humanistic, ideological “Ism” is what’s brought us to this point: elites with no optimism, no real hope.
The only way to get hope and optimism back is to embrace what God told us long ago: “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
Christian hope is not like any other kind of hope. Christian hope is not a vain wish for what might be. Christian hope is a trust in what will be. Christian hope is based upon Christ's completed work, so our hope may be confident...not anxious, not arrogant, but confident.
This is very important. We're told by some people that the future is a matter of chance, fate, or luck. Some of these people think God doesn't exist, and some believe God can't do much even if He does exist. People who think like this end up in one of two extremes: hedonism or nihilism.
People faced with a pessimistic, hopeless future seek relief in substance abuse or some other emotional tranquilizer.
Hollywood celebrities—the ones who’ve lived life in full-on self-aggrandizement—who then get all that they’re after—fame and adulation, fortune and excess, libertine but vapid sex, banal success, materialistic things, finally discover what they wanted leaves them empty.
Remember Peggy Lee’s song in 1969? “If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing. Let’s break out the booze and have a ball. If that’s all there is.”
Does this help you understand why celebrities who “have it all” end their lives by their own hand, or they become victims of accidental overdose?
Christian hope is authentic, genuine, and balanced. It's never pessimistic, because Christians know the Creator and Savior.
We know the beginning and the end of the human story, and we know it's all in God's sovereign care. Christian hope is realistically optimistic. We acknowledge the presence of sin in the world—and in our own hearts, but we do not crash in an emotional death spiral, because we know the Lord, the author of hope.
"Hope springs eternal in the human breast." For the Christian--hope really is eternal.
Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s rexmrogers.com.
And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2023
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