“We should ask God to increase our hope when it is small, awaken it when it is dormant, confirm it when it is wavering, strengthen it when it is weak, and raise it up when it is overthrown.”
Plugging the ears, closing the eyes, looking away have become standard practice in response to the growing sense of despair provoked by the bellicose behavior of current occupant of the Oval Office. Each day further chips away the objective grounds for hope that the insanity and inanity will stop. Hope grows smaller, wavers, goes into hiding, becomes weak, and, on the worst of days, feels overthrown.
Is it surprising that a word from the 16th Century serves to encourage the weary?
Is it surprising that it comes from the pen of Jean Calvin, the lawyer-theologian of the Genevan branch of the protestant reformation, the author of the The Institutes of the Christian Religion who had more than his fair share of days when hope was small, and whose little hope was shrunk by the many haughty, small-minded people who claimed to follow him?
I was always exceedingly delighted with that saying of Chrysostom, “The foundation of our philosophy is humility”; and yet more pleased with that of Augustine: “As the orator, when asked, What is the first precept in eloquence? answered, Delivery: What is the second? Delivery: What is the third? Delivery: so if you ask me concerning the precepts of the Christian religion, I will answer, first, second, and third, Humility.
There is no inconsistency when God raises up those who have fallen prostrate.[John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion]
Holy One, increase our hope when it is small, awaken it when it is dormant, confirm it when it is wavering, strengthen it when it is weak, and raise it up when it is overthrown. Amen.
- Gordon C. Stewart, author of Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness, Chaska, MN, July 7, 2017