Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Optimism Has Been Immoderately Praised, But How Different is All This From New Testament Hope!

The following is an excerpt from "When Hope Is Dead, Hope On!" by W.E. Sangster (1900-1960). According to the Classic Sermon pages, "Sangster was a Methodist minister in London during World War II.  This message  was first preached during one of the many difficult times of the war for the British people." In our troubled times, it is often helpful to look back at how others coped with the world's horrors.

Of course we appreciate optimism, and willingly admit its simple service to the community, but it has been immoderately praised, and fully explains the world's cynicism concerning hope. Boisterous confidence which has no solid foundation looks pitifully ludicrous when crushing disappointment comes, and deepens the contempt in which it is widely held by the disillusioned. Looking at the the bright side of things may seem both bold and brave, but it involves also (as it so often does) a foolish neglect of facts which point the other way, it only adds to the bitterness of ultimate failure. A friend of mine, who used to be in the legal profession, tells me that he often wound up [terminated as a failure or bankruptcy] the business of people who WOULD persist in looking on the bright side of their accounts! 
But how different is all this from New Testament hope! It is as different as the gambler's dice from the proved results of accurate research. We go forward into this dark period in our nation's life, not inflated with the foolish optimism which seems to give buoyancy to those who do not know Christ, but with a quiet and unquenchable hope drawn from the deep sources of our faith. The language which comes easy to optimists we cannot use. Confident boasting of a swift and not-too-costly victory, and wishful anticipation of speedy revolution in enemy lands, are not the grounds of our hope. It is more deeply based than either of these. 
It is based, first, on:
THE INDESTRUCTIBILITY OF TRUTH. ...Truth is mighty. It does not achieve its victories by any lightning war. The lie wins all early engagements, and sometimes seems to be in the secure possession of the field. The Truth may even be nailed to a cross and taken down, a poor bleeding clod, to be hidden in a sepulchre, sealed with a great stone.
But it rises again! The life-principle in it cannot be killed. Somehow, it partakes of the life of God and, therefore, of God's eternity. Ultimately, its triumph is sure.
...It (truth) passes through the fires of fierce distortion, and seems at times to be utterly lost, but the flames cannot permanently harm it, and it returns to its remedial work again.
...That, then, is the first ground of our hope--the indestructibility of truth. In all our anxiety these days lest we become nationally self-righteous, none need hesitate to offer the prayer, "God defend the Truth." 
The second ground of our confident hope is this: 
GOD IS ON THE THRONE. Many people, most of whom live their normal lives in neglect of God, complain in times of national stress that He never seems to do anything. They set out the enormities of our enemies, touch with a light hand (or entirely ignore) our own national sins, and querulously inquire why God does not intervene....
...Already one nation has been entirely engulfed in the bloody tide of this worldwide war. Others may share the fate--our own even. But justice and righteousness shall not vanish from the earth. Out of the chaos of these times, and by the bitter agony of this doubly afflicted generation, the will of God will ultimately be done "on earth as it is in heaven."
He will never leave us nor forsake us as the scripture promises. The Cross is the pledge of that. In those moments of unmeasurable horror, when we fear that even God's patience will be exhausted with our wicked race, and all the windows of heaven closed from within against the scenes of earth, let us repair again to Calvary. Here is the ground of unquenchable hope. He will never forsake the world of His incarnation and sacrificial death. God is on the throne. Truth is indestructible. When the shallow hopes of the world and all its false messiahs are all dead--hope on in God!  
These words of where we place our hope and why are applicable to all knds of strife including of course the Anglican wars on truth. 

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