Stewards of Hope
Fear, hope, love, hate. Each short word is able to evoke a
personal response; each is present in life…sometimes concurrently.
It would be so much neater if the good words and bad words were more easily distinguished. However,
such is not the case in the current western world, nor is it so in much of the
rest of the world.
Instead, much of
current-culture talk centers on the ”good news” of fear and the disparaging
naiveté of hope. The call to arms echoes as humanity’s lack of preparedness for
the coming “crisis”—whatever it may be—destines it to be handled with lead, not
Each short word is able to evoke a personal response; each is present in life…sometimes concurrently.
There is worry in
the land. Not just here but everywhere, because every thinking person realizes
that what others are struggling with could easily become their own experience.
How then shall we
live as a steward of hope in a world that is fascinated and motivated by fear?
How shall we live as a steward of love in a world that so quickly alienates and
isolates the “stranger that is within thy gates”?
Stewards of hope in
a culture of fear…. What is it that gives us the ability to look at fear and
have hope? What is it that allows that “peace that passes understanding,” that
calm that makes no sense, to be present in my countenance when others despair?
How do you find
peace when the phone rings and disrupts your world? That unexpected phone call
resulting in bewilderment, as in, “Is this really real?”
How does one
respond to bad news? This is where
faith helps us transform surprise and sorrow into hope and confidence.
Listen to what the
apostle Paul tells the bewildered people of his day: “For I am convinced
that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor
the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in
all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in
Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:37-39).
It is only in the
context of a faith-view of this world that we can find perspective and peace.
The wells from which the waters of peace and hope flow are: believing that God
is good and desires our best; knowing that He is our shepherd who leads us by
still waters; and knowing that we can trust Him.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord
How then shall a
commissioned steward of hope live?
Is hope something
one distributes, like food or water, in time of need? Is it something one can
donate to be laid up for times of need? Is hope something that one can gain
outside of a relationship?
confidence in these times of uncertainty is the hallmark of a “steward of
hope,” of one for whom the “peace that passes understanding” is a present
experience, not simply a desired future state. “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will
keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
Living with hope in
the present requires that we frankly acknowledge and address those things that
cause fear in ourselves and in others. To merely dismiss fear is to make hope
There are three levels of hope and I would suggest three levels of fear as their corollary.
I hope/fear that I
will/won’t have a good day! I
hope/fear it doesn’t rain on the picnic. This kind of hope/fear is most common,
but means little as the consequences of it being a bad or rainy day are not
Relational: I hope/fear s/he likes me! I hope/fear that s/he will/won’t go out
with me again. I hope/fear s/he will/won’t work on our marriage. There is a
much more significant consequence for that which is relational, personal and
typically painful. But with time you rise, work through it and live another
day. Both hope and fear have significantly more at stake at this level.
I hope/fear that I will/won’t recover from this cancer. Hope/fear
expressed in life threatening situations. This level is about the very ability
to continue to live.
It is at the second
and third levels where most people are seeking, knowingly or unknowingly, for
some form of hope. They are more than likely going to turn to those they know
and trust in their time of need for help and hope.
stewards of hope, we must be integrated into the community. We must be there
with them “incarnationally”
and not just show up with the “van” during a
as important as that can be.
To be with people,
mingling among them, seeking to fulfill their needs. This is the Master’s
way (Ministry of Healing, p. 143).
Fear and hope are
both agents of grace as portrayed so well in the song, Amazing Grace: “Twas
grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.”
Hope does that. It is the power to face our fears and through Christ, overcome them, and live as a people redeemed not only from sin, but from fear, anxiety, doubt and isolation as well.
favor with God, first taught us that our place in the heavenly scheme of things
is that we are truly a people in need of restoration and forgiveness—a people
who are under the death penalty, and subject to the attacks of evil. But the
same grace that shows us our destitute state, also takes those fears away
through our relationship with Christ, and our hope in His salvation and His
soon return. Grace relieves our fears through the hope we have in Christ
allowing us to face our reality and find assurance.
Hope does that. It
is the power to face our fears and through Christ, overcome them, and live as a
people redeemed not only from sin, but from fear, anxiety, doubt and isolation
Hope empowers us to
rise above fear and live a life of confidence in these uncertain times.
My youngest sister
is a remarkable woman. She lived with the Haida Indians off the coast of Alaska
working to help provide education and learn to understand their native
spirituality. She also lived for two years with the Inuit people above the
Arctic Circle. She has been chased by polar bears, attacked by a shark and yet
lives a quiet life.
On one occasion,
while living in the Arctic, she and her dog, Chico, went camping. They hiked 12
miles from the village and set up a tent on a flat plateau the size of half a
football field. Chico, normally a calm yet strong dog, became increasingly
worried and restless. Judy looked to where he was casting anxious glances and
saw at the plateau’s edge,100 feet away,18 big ears—peaked and pointed her way.
Eighteen ears that belonged to nine big wolves!
Judy did not carry
a gun, only her snow knife. What was she to do? Fear looked her straight in the
eyes. What could she do? Deny the wolves existence? Wish them a way as we did
as kids? Sing happy songs to feel better? Jump in the tent and close the
With what she
describes as a deep sense of calm she clipped Chico on his leash, picked up her
snow knife and not knowing what might happen, she walked towards her fear. Step
by step as she moved closer the wolves came up the rise, massive paws resting
on the edge of the ridge.
She talked to the
wolves, quietly telling them that she wouldn’t taste very good! With her arms
raised she walked peacefully and boldly towards them, facing the greatest fear
she had encountered.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope”
When she got within
50 feet they broke rank and ran away, looking back at this being who confronted
them. Judy watched in silence. She slept well that night; she knew that the
wolves would not be back. Hope had risen in her heart and she had faced her
Where is our hope
when fear comes knocking at our door? Where is our community’s hope when fear
comes knocking at their door?
Above all, the hope
of true faith and love should embody the quiet transforming confidence that
allows the reality of fear, present danger, even hatred, to be transformed into,
and triumphed by, the confidence of hope.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so
that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Rom. 15:13).