Sunday, March 15, 2015

Abandon hope. Or not.

Today at church our pastor was preaching on hope, a hope that the author of the letter to the Hebrews calls “an anchor for the soul.”

I have read several of the books written by the Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön, including her book When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, which I have read more than once. The book has been helpful to me as I try to develop an attitude of detachment about life’s trials. And when our pastor was preaching today about hope, I recalled what Pema Chödrön had to say about hope. She’s not a fan of hope. Yes, it seems strange, but her reasoning is that we should be living in the present and having hope is a way of not accepting what we have, longing for something more. She writes:

“Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty. We can’t simply relax with ourselves. We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment. We feel that someone else knows what is going on, but that there is something missing in us, and therefore something lacking in our world.”

Although I think some of aspects of Buddhism are noble and unselfish, I am grateful that I am a Christian and I can have hope, that I have that “anchor for the soul” and a promise for the heart that holds on in faith. In 1 Peter, Scripture describes for us the reason for our hope:

“What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.” 1 Peter 1:3-5 (The Message)
It is the hope of eternal life with God that keeps us going, through whatever life hurls at us. And even now, our lives are better because we have that hope, that blessed assurance that binds us to Him and gives us purpose. I’d make a terrible Buddhist if it meant I would have to abandon hope. That longing, that promise that I will one day be with God makes it bearable. I love what C.S. Lewis wrote in his book, Till We Have Faces:

“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing—to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from—my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back.”

That sounds like hope to me.

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