There was a fellow who one day decided to go on a cruise ship. No sooner did he leave port, when he was overcome by a terrible case of seasickness. He was leaning over the railing, doing you-know-what when you are 3 shades of green, when a crew member from the ship came by. The crew member said, “Cheer up! Nobody ever died of seasickness.” The fellow looked up in agony and said, “Please don’t tell me that. The hope of dying is the only thing that has kept me alive this long!” We all have some sort of hope. Hope is to our spirit, - what oxygen is to our lungs. Without hope, we die. But, the tiniest ray of hope can keep us going and going and going like the Energizer Bunny.
As Christians, we are called to an active, passionate hope, which is different from optimism. Optimism is a feeling. We all have days when we feel optimistic. Someone has described optimism as going after Moby Dick in a row boat and taking the tartar sauce with you. That’s optimism! But hope is something else. In the movie, “The Shawshank Redemption,” Prison inmates, Andy and Red, are sitting around the lunch table talking, when they get into a discussion on the subject of hope. Red says, “Hope is a dangerous thing my friend. It can kill a man.” But Andy says, “Hope is a good thing, maybe even the best of things, -- and good things never die.”
My friends, hope is the most powerful, personal energy source in the world. The Bible says, “Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you” (Psalm 33:22). The Apostle Paul writes, “ . . . and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). What keeps you going if you are in prison is hope. What sends your kids to college is hope. What brought the Pilgrims to the shores of America was hope. What brings you to Chestnut Level is hope. May the God of hope bless you and be with you each and every day.