Many years ago a man was sentenced to death, but obtained a reprieve from the king by assuring him he would teach his majesty’s horse to fly within one year. The only condition was if he didn’t succeed, he would be put to death at the end of the year.
So as he was sitting with some other prisoners one day one of them asked him, “How are you so sure you can teach his horse to fly?”
He replied, “I’m not. But within a year the king may die, I may die, or the horse may die. And who knows? Maybe the horse will learn to fly!”
Now that fellow was what most people would call an optimist. In fact, if you look the word optimist up in the dictionary, his picture will be shown there (well, maybe…).
But the one thing he demonstrated was that no matter what happens, no matter how bad things seem to be, there is always a reason and a rationale to have hope.
One fellow was traveling in the interior of the country of China when he came upon the small town of Huayang in the Sichuan Province. Four years before a powerfully tragic earthquake there had virtually destroyed everything in sight. The town was almost totally in ruins. Shops and businesses were gaping open from the shearing off of their facades. Apartment buildings were in ruins with no windows intact and because of the lapse of time since the actual quake, bushes were growing on floors above the ground where walls had given way. The roadways were by and large abandoned, and many of them still piled with debris from the disaster.
As he walked through those streets, this fellow thought of the families who once made their homes there, the shopkeepers who had sold their wares there, and the children who had lived, played and grew up amid what was now a crumbling pile of asphalt, brick and tile. But then this fellow came upon a large hand-lettered, graffiti-like sign standing out against one pile of debris. When he asked for a translation, he was amazed, and somewhat perplexed by the words written there by an anonymous writer. The sign read: “Ruins generate hope!”
Who knows what the sign-painter was thinking when he or she sprayed those words on that large piece of wood. But when I read that, and when anyone who follows Christ reads that, it should bring the words of the Psalmist to mind: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” – Psalm 46:1-2.
True Christ-followers in the real world today are and should be the ultimate optimists. Whatever may be going on in your life, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you indeed have a hope. As one writer put it, as oxygen is to the body, so hope is to the Christian. You and I can live without health. We can live without happiness. But we cannot survive without a hope.
Almost every day, I visit with people in my work, in my neighborhood, in my church. The one thing they all have in common is their need for a hope. Hope gives them a reason to live, no matter what else may be going on in their lives.
The Bible calls this hope for a Christian a blessed hope. It is a hope that brings constant joy to a true follower of Jesus. That blessed hope is the belief that Christ indeed will return and reign.
No building code in the world can give us the security that we crave. No mortar can hold the bricks of our lives in place with the assurance that we so desperately seek. There is nothing we can do to provide for ourselves the framework we need to have that solid foundation. Only the Lord can provide that hope!
Won’t you allow Him to do that today?
Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette and a former Hillsboro area pastor. He can be reached at [email protected]