As Vice President, George Bush represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Soviet
leader Leonid Brezhnev. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by
Brezhnev's widow. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed.
Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev's wife performed an act of great
courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of
civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her
There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who
had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life,
and that that life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross, and that the same
Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband.
Gary Thomas, in Christianity Today, October 3, 1994, p. 26.
Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all...As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is
mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength.
G.K. Chesterton, Signs of the Times, April 1993,
From Parade magazine comes the story of self-made millionaire Eugene Land, who greatly changed the lives of a sixth-grade class
in East Harlem. Mr. Lang had been asked to speak to a class of 59 sixth-graders. What could he say to inspire these students,
most of whom would drop out of school? He wondered how he could get these predominantly black and Puerto Rican children even to
look at him. Scrapping his notes, he decided to speak to them from his heart. "Stay in school," he admonished, "and I'll help
pay the college tuition for every one of you." At that moment the lives of these students changed. For the first time they had
hope. Said one student, "I had something to look forward to, something waiting for me. It was a golden feeling." Nearly 90
percent of that class went on to graduate from high school.
As Alexander the Great was setting out on his conquest of Asia, he inquired into the finances of his followers. To ensure
that they would not be troubled over the welfare of their dependents during their absence, he distributed crown estates and
revenues among them. When he had thus disposed of nearly all the royal resources, his friend General Perdiccas asked Alexander
what he had reserved for himself. "Hope," answered the king.
"In that case," said Perdiccas, "we who share in your labors will also take part in your hopes." He then refused the estate
allotted to him, and several other of the king's friends did the same.
Daily Walk, May 25, 1992.
During the Thirty Years' War in the 17th century, German pastor Paul Gerhardt and his family were forced to flee from
their home. One night as they stayed in a small village inn, homeless and afraid, his wife broke down and cried openly in
despair. To comfort her, Gerhardt reminded her of Scripture promises about God's provision and keeping. Then, going out to
the garden to be alone, he too broke down and wept. He felt he had come to his darkest hour.
Soon afterward, Gerhardt felt the burden lifted and sensed anew the Lord's presence. Taking his pen, he wrote a hymn that
has brought comfort to many. "Give to the winds thy fears; hope, and be undismayed; God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears; God
shall lift up thy head. Through waves and clouds and storms He gently clears the way. Wait thou His time, so shall the night
soon end in joyous day."
It is often in our darkest times that God makes His presence known most clearly. He uses our sufferings and troubles to show
us that He is our only source of strength. And when we see this truth, like
Pastor Gerhardt, we receive new hope. Are you facing a great trial? Take heart. Put yourself in
God's hands. Wait for His timing. He will give you a "song in the night."
Our Daily Bread, May 7, 1992.
"Here it appears either Paul or Barnabas went too far. It must have been a violent disagreement to separate two associates who
were so closely united. Indeed, the text indicates as much.
"Such examples are written for our consolation: for it is a great comfort to us to hear that great saints, who have the
Spirit of God, also struggle. Those who say that saints do not sin would deprive us of this comfort.
"Samson, David, and many other celebrated men full of the Holy Spirit fell into grievous sins. Job and Jeremiah cursed the
day of their birth; Elijah and Jonah were weary of life and desired death.
"No one has ever fallen so grievously that he may not rise again. Conversely, no one stands so firmly that he may not fall.
If Peter (and Paul and Barnabas) fell, I too may fall. If they rose again, I too may rise again."
The school system in a large city had a program to help children keep up with their school work during stays in the city's
hospitals. One day a teacher who was assigned to the program received a routine call asking her to visit a particular child.
She took the child's name and room number and talked briefly with the child's regular class teacher. "We're studying nouns and
adverbs in his class now," the regular teacher said, "and I'd be grateful if you could help him understand them so he doesn't fall
too far behind."
The hospital program teacher went to see the boy that afternoon. No one had mentioned to her that the boy had
been badly burned and was in great pain. Upset at the sight of the boy, she stammered as she told him, "I've been sent by your
school to help you with nouns and adverbs." When she left she felt she
hadn't accomplished much.
But the next day, a nurse asked her, "What did you do to that boy?" The teacher felt she
must have done something wrong and began to apologize. "No, no," said the nurse. "You don't know what I mean. We've been worried
about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed. He's fighting back, responding to
treatment. It's as though he's decided to live."
Two weeks later the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived. Everything changed when he came to a
simple realization. He expressed it this way: "They wouldn't send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy,
Bits & Pieces, July 1991.
A man approached a little league baseball game one afternoon. He asked a boy in the dugout what the score was. The boy responded,
"Eighteen to nothing--we're behind."
"Boy," said the spectator, "I'll bet you're discouraged."
"Why should I be discouraged?" replied the little boy. "We haven't even gotten up to bat yet!"
A man sentenced to death obtained a reprieve by assuring the king he would teach his majesty's horse to fly within the year--on the
condition that if he didn't succeed, he would be put to death at the end of the year. "Within a year," the man explained later,
"the king may die, or I may die, or the horse may die. Furthermore, in a year, who knows? Maybe the horse will learn to
Bernard M. Baruch.
There are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them.
Clare Boothe Luce.
A number of years ago researchers performed an experiment to see the effect hope has on those undergoing hardship. Two sets of
laboratory rats were placed in separate tubs of water. The researchers left one set in the water and found that within an
hour they had all drowned. The other rats were periodically lifted out of the water and then returned. When that happened,
the second set of rats swam for over 24 hours. Why? Not because they were given a rest, but because they suddenly had hope!
Those animals somehow hoped that if they could stay afloat just a little longer, someone would reach down and rescue them. If hope
holds such power for unthinking rodents, how much greater should is effect be on our lives.
Today in the Word, May, 1990, p. 34.
I am not a connoisseur of great art, but from time to time a painting or picture will really speak a clear, strong message to
me. Some time ago I saw a picture of an old burned-out mountain shack. All that remained was the chimney...the charred debris of
what had been that family's sole possession. In front of this destroyed home stood an old grandfather-looking man dressed only
in his underclothes with a small boy clutching a pair of patched overalls. It was evident that the child was crying. Beneath the
picture were the words which the artist felt the old man was speaking to the boy. They were simple words, yet they presented
a profound theology and philosophy of life. Those words were, "Hush child, God ain't dead!"
That vivid picture of that burned-out mountain shack, that old man, the weeping child, and those
words "God ain't dead" keep returning to my mind. Instead of it being a reminder of the despair of life, it has come to be a
reminder of hope! I need reminders that there is hope in this world. In the midst of all of life's troubles and failures, I
need mental pictures to remind me that all is not lost as long as God is alive and in control of His world.
James DeLoach, associate pastor of the Second Baptist
Church of Houston, quoted in When God Was Taken Captive, W. Aldrich,
Multnomah, 1989, p. 24.
One night at dinner a man, who had spent many summers in Maine, fascinated his companions by telling of his experiences in a
little town named Flagstaff. The town was to be flooded, as part of a large lake for which a dam was being built. In the months
before it was to be flooded, all improvements and repairs in the whole town were stopped. What was the use of painting a house if
it were to be covered with water in six months? Why repair anything when the whole village was to be wiped out? So, week by
week, the whole town became more and more bedraggled, more gone to seed, more woebegone. Then he added by way of explanation:
"Where there is no faith in the future, there is no power in the present."
Halford E. Luccock, Unfinished Business.
In the novel, Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., an important book comes to light. It is titles "What Can a Thoughtful Man
Hope for Mankind on Earth, Given the Experience of the Past Million Years?" The chief character is anxious to read it. But
when he does, he finds that it doesn't take long. The whole book consists of one word: "Nothing."
Typical inscription on a grave in Paul's day:
I was not
I am not
I care not.
Warren Wiersbe, Be Ready, p. 83.
George Bernard Shaw is perhaps most renowned as a free thinker and liberal philosopher. In his last writings we read, "The
science to which I pinned my faith is bankrupt. Its counsels, which should have established the millennium, led, instead,
directly to the suicide of Europe. I believed them once. In their name I helped to destroy the faith of millions of
worshippers in the temples of a thousand creeds. And now they look at me and witness the great tragedy of an
atheist who has lost his faith."
George Bernard Shaw.