Hope

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.

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Invested Fathers, Hopeful Children

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (KJV, Ephesians 6:4)

November 24, 2014, is a day I will never forget. That is the date my oldest son was born and for all intents and purposes the day I became a father. I remember standing in the hallway of the little hospital and wearing that stupid looking paper gown. As they prepared my wife for the delivery, I paced the empty O.R. hallway. As I paced, I was praying and begging God.

I was of course concerned for my wife’s safety and the healthy birth of my son, but even more than that, a single thought consumed me, “O God, please don’t let me mess this up.” I was entering fatherhood with great fear and trepidation. Why? Well, the answer is simple. The society we live in has spent decades telling us that dads are incompetent. If you think I am wrong about this, start paying attention to the dads on your favorite TV shows. To be blunt, Dad is often either a total moron or a hate filled cynic who neglects his children. What are we supposed to do in the face of such brainwashing?

For the Christian father, the Bible offers some general principles and a few direct commands. Ephesians 6:4 is one of those few commands that we are directly given as dads. The verse is a plea for us to invest in in the spiritual well-being of our children. Below are some investments we ought to be making.

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Christians Get to Grieve, Too

A while ago I went to visit a man whose wife had died. It was a cold winter day in Maine as I drove up to the ancient farmhouse overlooking a frozen lake in a largely unknown small town in rural Maine. For anyone reading this who is not from Maine, let me tell you that he fit the quintessential image of a Mainer. He sported a thick white beard and his skin was leathered and toughened by the harsh Maine winters and years of working outside.

As we talked we sat in front of the stove in his kitchen and the air was filled with the unique smell of wood smoke. He was a retired pastor whose wife had died about six months before and I would occasionally drop in to see him. Our continued sporadic visits were as much of a surprise to me as anyone. We shared a common faith in the saving power of Christ, but I suppose that is about it. We disagreed on many theological things and we hail from completely different generations.

As a sort of grief counselor though, I was there to talk with him about his grieving process. I expected our first visit to be our last, but he kept inviting me back. We would discuss many things, but he always came back to the deep ache in his life left by the absence of his wife.

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