…is with the truth….Hope cannot take root in unreality or untruths.”
I am currently rereading After the Locusts: Letters from a Landscape of Faith, by Denise Ackermann, a theologian from South Africa. Each chapter in the book is a letter to someone she loves. The chapter from which the above quote is taken is written to her best friend, Elfriede.
I appreciate deeply the grounded-in-reality approach she takes to understanding hope. In this post, I am going to quote various selections from this chapter, “On Locusts and Bodies”, particularly from pages 81 to 83.
First, here the author is quoting Calvin:
To us is given the promise of eternal life–but to us, the dead. A blessed resurrection is proclaimed to us–meantime we are surrounded by decay. We are called righteous–and yet sin lives in us. We hear of ineffable blessedness–but meantime we are here oppressed by infinite misery. We are promised abundance of all good things–yet we are rich only in hunger and thirst….But what would become of us if we did not take our stand on hope?
And some further thoughts:
To believe that Christ was raised from the dead is not just a consoling thought about how God has triumphed over humiliation, suffering, and death. It is in fact a contradiction of suffering and death, a divine protest against suffering. And it does not only deal with the future. Hope is sterile if it does not transform our thoughts and our actions here and now. Hope opens a future outlook that embraces all of life, everything we do and know, and that includes sickness and death.
This is a theme which I keep coming back to. Hope, if it is to be real, has got to be able to deal with and exist in the context of the realities that are. In one very real sense, hope is based in a belief that what we see is not all there is. But, in another sense, if hope cannot take into account the the realities and sorrows we actually see around us, today, then it is dishonest and unrealistic.
Hope has very little currency if it is just a ‘pie in the sky when we die by and by’, a trick masquerading as optimism covered with a religious veneer. True Christian hope is tougher, more realistic…