Patience and the Christian hope for our future

Published 1:55 pm Saturday, May 7, 2022

By Fr. Jonathan Filkins

As Jesus said, when asked, “What are the primary cardinal virtues?” He stated, “They are faith, hope and charity.” Some of today’s translations of the later say “love,” but we shall leave that discussion for another time,

What then is hope? One source defines hope as “the feeling that what is wanted can be had, or that events will turn out for the best.” As an alternative definition it offers, “to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.” Neither of these is the Christian hope because, as positive as they sound, there is an element of doubt. Our feelings that things will turn out for the best, may turn out to be in error. We may have a reasonable, but false, confidence.

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The Christian hope is the absolute assurance that God will do what he has promised to do. He has proclaimed the Christian hope in his Word. He has bound himself by it. It will happen whether, or not, we personally believe it, or feel good about it. As tough as it sounds, God will do as He pleases. Our “feelings” have nothing to do with it. As Jesus said, in the gospel from Saint Luke, Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Hope is integrally related to truth. The hope of our resurrection is sure and certain because it is true. One characteristic fault of our age is the desire to feel good, about things, regardless of whether or not, they are true. This is the root of false religion. It is at the root of worshiping ourselves and being at the altar of possessions. It offers us something we want, but it bases that hope on a false premise.

So much of our so-called education methodology is based upon the methodology of the Ancients, particularly the Greeks. There is a legend about a proud young man who came to Socrates, asking for truth. He walked up to the muscular philosopher and said, “O great Socrates, I come to you for truth.” Socrates recognized a pompous numbskull when he saw one. He led the young man through the streets, to the sea and chest deep into water. Then he asked, “What do you want?” “Truth, O wise Socrates,” said the young man with a smile. Socrates put his strong hands on the man’s shoulders and pushed him under. Thirty seconds later Socrates let him up. “What do you want?” he asked again.  “Truth,” the young man sputtered, “O great and wise Socrates.”  Socrates crunched him under again. Thirty seconds passed, thirty-five. Forty. Socrates let him up. The man was gasping. “What do you want, young man?”  Between heavy, heaving breaths the fellow wheezed, “Truth, O wise and wonderful…”  Socrates jammed him under again Forty seconds passed. Fifty. “What do you want?”  “Air!” the young man screeched. “I need air!” “When you want essential truth as you have just wanted air, then you will have essential truth.”

The Christian hope is based upon the promise of God, in His truth. It is truth that gives us the assurance and certainty that what we hope for, shall come to pass. The Christian hope literally lives within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. As Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Romans says, Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.”

Because of the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Christian hope is not merely some superficial sensory belief that God will do what he has promised. It is a desire in the depths of our souls for the fulfillment of God’s promise. Now, we struggle with sin and make progress by the grace of God. Yet, in that redemptive activity there is a longing for completion. The Holy Ghost within us cries out, “When will I be free from sin? When will I get my new body? When will I see God face to face?”

Patience, patience…