When Hope Wavers

“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?

CalvinInstitutio

Institutes of the Christian Religion

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.

12 thoughts on “When Hope Wavers

  1. I think Paul had something to say about hope. Yes, I looked it up; in Hebrews: Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. So hope and faith go hand in hand. I guess I need a little more faith, and more humility. And also to remember on whom my reliance must be: not Bernie (dearly as I love him), not Elizabeth Warren, not Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but God. And His plan may not be my plan.

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    • Carolyn, that Hebrews text is one of my favorites. Hebrews 11 reminds us of the history of violence and oppression that arcs back much further than our historical memories. Then it shifts to chapter 12: Since, therefore, we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also run the race that is set before us,looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of the faith, who enduring the cross, despising its shame….” Something like that. God Bernie! God Elizabeth! Go Ruth! Go Hope! Go faith! And, I never thought I’d say it, go Calvin?😜

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  2. I’m glad you’re ruminating, thinking writing, enjoying this tremendous gift of thought and insight and sharing it with us.

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