Is Hope a Blessing or a Curse?

Reposted from The Cripplegate.

According to Greek mythology, all evil is the fault of one woman: a young lady named Pandora. When the gods created Pandora, they each bestowed her with a gift. Among her birthday presents was a beautifully crafted treasure chest. But inside this box was a host of all the world’s evils.

When Pandora opened the box, the evils flew out like bats and immediately began plaguing mankind. Slander, greed, jealousy, hate, and every other degeneracy were forever at large.

But as the legend has it, Pandora managed to snap the lid closed just in time to trap one evil inside. Do you know which evil was not allowed to escape?

It was hope.

Hope, you say? How can hope be an evil?

It was believed by the Greeks that hope was the most pernicious of all evils because it prevented people from accepting their fate. As long as hope remained trapped in the box, people would not long for an afterlife and would, therefore, be more useful in this life.

Existential philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, suggested that in an extended time of difficulty, hope may prove worse than hopelessness. For example, prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole tend to adjust better to their situation than prisoners who hope for the day of their release. They accept their fate as hopeless, and thus learn to be content.

But does God want us to be perfectly satisfied with our current situation? Does God desire that we grow content with this life, where his will is not universally obeyed, where sin is rampant, and suffering remains part of everyday experience?

The answer is found in 1 Peter 1:13.

2 Instructions On Hope That Help You Live With Your Eyes Fixed On Jesus

1. The Command

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13 )

The second half verse 13 contains Peter’s main point: we should hope. Hope in Scripture is something definite—something that can be relied on as certain to occur. So Peter says to set your hope fully on this: the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

He is referring to salvation—verse 4: “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.”

Pry your fingers off of your career, your relationships, your money, your health, and anything else you put your hope in and clutch onto Jesus alone. None of these is as important as your soul.

If you put your hope in your possessions, you are setting yourself up for a fall. Rust consumes your garden furniture, moths eat your clothes for breakfast, inflation gnaws at your savings, and burglars carry everything else away.

2. Method of Hope

1 Peter 1:13—Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope…

When I go hiking, I always look directly in front of me. Then every once in a while, I remember that I am in a beautiful landscape and I lift my gaze to the mountains. But after a while I look down at the ground to navigate a tricky part in the path, and next thing I know I’ve been walking for a half hour without looking up once.

Our spiritual lives can be like that. At church we get our weekly reminder of the glory of Christ and heavenly hopes, but after a few hours of being immersed in our trial-ridden world, our focus becomes transfixed on the earth.

How do you get to a point where the preoccupation with Jesus is a permanent part of your thought life? Peter gives us the two-part answer:

Be Prepared

From the Greek this means “girding the loins of your mind” – an expression which means to get ready for work, or as we might say “roll up your sleeves.” Hope is going to take some effort because our hope runs downhill, like water, to our riches, physical security, human relationships. Our hope doesn’t float up to heaven, it needs to be actively pumped up there by the force of your will. Hope is not a feeling, it’s an activity of the will.

You need to choose what to allow your mind to dwell on. You might not be able to prevent a thought popping into your head, but you can stop it from nesting there.

Be sober

In order to set your hope where it belongs, you will need intentional thinking. This doesn’t refer only to alcohol, but to any distraction from clear thought. Booze isn’t the only thing people use to numb their spiritual state. The world system dulls our souls and distracts us from reality with the opiates of hobbies, entertainment, work, and sensual pleasures.

Peter says sober up, stop living under the influence of the world, and think clearly about your future in heaven.

Turn off the TV long enough to think about life. Turn off the car radio sometimes and think. Carve out some silent time – even a minute here and there and use it to meditate on Christ and heaven and the hope you have in him.

Hope isn’t an evil to be caged; it is a boon and blessing for citizens of heaven. Hope is the home language of the Christian, and we need to stay fluent if we want to be useful to the Lord in this life.

Clint Archer bio


Clint has been the pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church since 2005. He lives in Durban, South Africa with his wife and four kids.

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T Howard's picture

Quote:

According to Greek mythology, all evil is the fault of one woman: a young lady named Pandora. When the gods created Pandora, they each bestowed her with a gift. Among her birthday presents was a beautifully crafted treasure chest. But inside this box was a host of all the world’s evils.

When Pandora opened the box, the evils flew out like bats and immediately began plaguing mankind. Slander, greed, jealousy, hate, and every other degeneracy were forever at large.

But as the legend has it, Pandora managed to snap the lid closed just in time to trap one evil inside. Do you know which evil was not allowed to escape?

It was hope.

Hope, you say? How can hope be an evil?

It was believed by the Greeks that hope was the most pernicious of all evils because it prevented people from accepting their fate. As long as hope remained trapped in the box, people would not long for an afterlife and would, therefore, be more useful in this life.

Minor detail, but this is a rather incorrect understanding of the Pandora myth and Greek thought. This understanding reflects more of Nietzsche than it does of Hesiod and Aeschylus or even Aesop.

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