The Next Faithful Step

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“Prisoners of Hope” - Hope in the Midst of Loss

Scott Cormode, Fuller Theological Seminary

Opening: What do Pixar and Shakespeare have in common?  

  • Tin Toy  
  • Toy Story; Toy Story 2; Toy Story 3  
  • A Bug’s Life  
  • Up  
  • Hamlet  

Lament:  “How long…” occurs at least 13x in the Psalms  

Questions of the Human Condition:  What makes life worth living?  

  1. Is this all there is?
  2. Does anything I do really matter? Can I really change anything?
  3. Does anyone really know me?
  4. What can I do to be truly happy?

   i.e. The search for purpose, fulfillment, and meaning
   i.e. The inevitability of isolation
   i.e. The fear of death

At the heart of the human condition is the longing for something that is not there.  

  • Never had it
  • Had it and lost it

Psalm 13

1 How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
   How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
   and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
   How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
   Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
   and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
   my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the LORD’s praise,
   for he has been good to me.

Zechariah 9:12  “Prisoners of hope”
Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1852)

[9] The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.

Shakespeare, Hamlet 

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune, Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles, And by opposing end them:
      to die, to sleep No more;
      and by a sleep, to say we end The heart-ache,
      and the thousand Natural shocks That Flesh is heir to? '
Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die to sleep,

To sleep, perchance to Dream; Ay, there's the rub,

For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come, When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause.

There's the respect That makes Calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of time,
The Oppressor's wrong,
the proud man's Contumely, [poor] (Contumely: contempt)
The pangs of disprized Love,
the Law’s delay,
The insolence of Office,
and the Spurns That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his Quietus make With a bare Bodkin? (Bodkin: dagger)

Who would Fardels bear, To grunt and sweat under a weary life, (Fardels: pack, burden)

But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered Country, from whose bourn No Traveller returns,

Puzzles the will, And makes us rather bear those ills we have, Than fly to others that we know not of.
Thus Conscience does make Cowards of us all,
And thus the Native hue of Resolution Is sicklied o'er, with the pale cast of Thought, And enterprises of great pitch and moment, With this regard their Currents turn away And lose the name of Action.