One thing really struck me with the Inauguration of President Donald Trump, was the difference between himself and President Barak Obama.
Barak Obama’s final speech as president was one that could have been summed up by one word “HOPE” -in fact “HOPE” has characterised both his presidency and him as a person, his autobiography was called “The Audacity of HOPE”.
Yet much of Donald’s Trump’s campaign was summed up by one word “FEAR”.
Former Bristol MP -Tony Benn- said: “Hope is the fuel of progress and fear is the prison you put yourself”.
A similar sentiment from the film Shawshank Redemption “Fear hold you prisoner, but Hope can set you free”.
As I thought of this image it made me realise that the toughest prisons aren’t those with bricks or bars but the icy strongholds in peoples’ hearts and minds.
This prison though is one that many can be swept into, we have all been in meetings when a fear-monger has turned the mood of a room or a decision of a meeting; yet too the reverse can happen, people can be liberated by the freedom that Hope brings, a person of hope-filled faith can inspire people to stand and to step out.
A poem about Hope : – “Rosa (Parks) sat, so that Martin (Luther King Jr) could walk, Martin walked, so that Barak (Obama) could stand, Barak stood so all our children could fly”. Hope is aspirational. Hope re-writes a new future, where-as fear if often a pessimistic self-fulfilling prophecy.
As I thought about my life, I asked myself the question, “is my life ruled by Hope or Fear?”
I want it to be ruled by Hope, yet sadly more often than I want I am ruled by fear.
“It is so easy to break down and destroy, but heroes are the ones who make peace and build” said former South African President Nelson Mandela.
The fictional President Matt Santos from the West Wing said “It is easier to throw stones at a house than to try and build one”.
Fear paralyses and keeps people rooted to the spot like a rabbit caught in the car headlights.
Fear builds walls.
Hope builds bridges.
Hope causes us to lay down our weapons, whereas Fear causes us to blame, lash out and pick up our weapons.
For the Christian Hope is not a “wishful thinking naïve aspiration that somehow everything is going to be alright in the end”, no we have a “hope that does not disappoint us”, “our hope is in the Lord who made heaven and earth” -it is a hope that “moths and rust cannot destroy” but rather is based not on a vague idea or concept but on a person, Jesus Christ, described by Peter as our “Living Hope” -our hope is in the resurrected and victorious son of God.
Our hope is that the God “who began a good work will see it through to completion”.
Our hope is that “he that is within us is greater than he that is in the world”.
Our hope is in Christ who said “I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against them”.
Yet how do we be people filled with Hope and not Fear?
Often we start full of hope, but the stress, strains and pains of the world can often leave us feeling jaded, cynical, deafest, we too often let hope slip away, evaporate, and fear creep in and slowly take root, and become a spiritual stronghold.
We often don’t talk about being controlled by fear, but rather we use expressions like being “pragmatic” or “realistic” or “worldly wise” -often we allow ourselves to be often somewhat superior and patronising to those pursuing a message of hope, painting them as naïve and dismissing their view as “youthful enthusiasm”.
So, how do we keep Hope alive within us?
Prayer is the antidote to defeatism, as our focus leaves the size of our problem and places our viewpoint on the size of our God.
Interestingly those who are most vocally defeatist/negative are also those who attend prayer meetings the least, I do believe that this is not a coincidence.
So, let us be Obama’s not Trump’s, people of Hope, not people of Fear.
And I’ll close with a prayer Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.