Hearing Hope-Filled Testimonies

by Rev Robert A Wendel

In this unbalanced world for us religious people holding out hope is like walking a tightrope.  So often we tell ourselves that we hope it will be better tomorrow than it is today.  By our very nature, we Christians try and be an optimist lot.  We are positive because what is the alternative?  Despair.

In 2003, ninety-one year old author and Chicago newspaper commentator Studs Terkel wrote the book Hope Dies Last:  Keeping Faith in Troubled Times.  In it he said “Throughout history there have always been certain kinds of people who had a hope.  It’s practical for us human species to have hope.  I hope that memory is valued.  Of course, I want peace, grace and beauty.”

This May, Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Office of Facebook, told graduates of UC Berkley, “One year and thirteen days ago my husband died.  Dave’s death changed me in many ways.

I learned that when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface and breathe again.  In the face of the void – in the face of any challenge – you can choose joy and meaning.  Lessons about hope, strength and light will not be extinguished.  You will be defined not by what you achieve but how you survive.  I hope that you will live your life with joy and meaning, without pain, grateful for each step.”

Rick Warren, Pastor and author  of The Purpose Driven Life,  whose son took his own life wrote “I am thankful that God sees all I go through.  He cares.  He grieves with me.  Even though I don’t have all the answers, God does.  When I give him the pieces he can turn crucifixions into resurrections.  God never wastes a hurt if we give it to him.”

As Saint Paul wrote newly converted Roman Christians, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace believing so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  (Romans 15:13 NRSV)