COMMITMENT

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

love.



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

Phil. 4:6-7

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?



Living with

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

simplistic.



There are three levels of hope and I would suggest three levels of fear as their corollary.



Superficial:

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

very significant.



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.



Existential:

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.



To be

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

crisis,

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.

Grace, unmerited

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

as well.

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

zipper?

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”

Rom. 15:13

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

fear.



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).



Peter Bath
Peter Bath, D.Min., M.B.A.

presently serves as Vice President for Mission and Human Resources with the 478

bed Florida Hospital in Tampa. Dr.

Bath has more than 33 years experience working in a variety of roles for

Seventh-day Adventist health care, educational institutions and church

congregations.

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