Faith of A Mustard Seed

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

I was standing in line during the after Christmas time and said “Happy New Year” to the gentleman standing behind me.  He said “Oh yes it’s got to be!  Last Year threw me for a loop and This New year can only be better.”  It has occurred to me that ‘Hope’ is the word that speaks to the whole phenomenon of ‘Happy New Year’.

In the Old Testament there is no neutral concept of expectation.  It is either good (hope) or bad (fear). Nothing in between.  Bultmann makes this statement, “This hope is not a consoling dream of the imagination which causes us to forget our present troubles, nor are we warned of its uncertainty, as in the Greek world. The life of the righteous is grounded in hope.”  This hope is trust… in God.  And it is demanded.  An ahhh moment: hope and fear cannot exist together!  Proverbs makes this plain for me: “(hu)man’s heart devises his way: but the Lord directs his steps”.

Plato analyzes human existence as being determined not simply by the present day but also the recollection of the past and the expectation of the future.  What develops is the idea that the ‘future expectation’ is not an ‘objective’ assessment, but ‘subjective’ —in fear and hope; whose meaning, content and all intent and purpose arises from what one sees as his very own possibilities.  Throughout the Greek writings there is evidence that hope is simply man’s projection of the future.  That man does and can hope is a comfort for him in a difficult present.  Faith that promises initiates a life of bliss after death continually gain insignificance.

This direct course of Bible study continues to amaze me in its lack of trivia.  Trivia versus revelation!  Young’s Analytical Concordance then, continues to be a very revealing tool for Bible study.  Yet again a surprise visit: the word hope only occurs two times in the Four Gospels, and both uses are by Luke!  OMG!  A flood of new thinking for me in this revelation, ‘hopefully’ for you also as you put your own handle on it.

A single note:  this problem arises when one’s hope is in his own personal life’s gain —this is a false confidence that is based upon controllable factors!  Hope has to be directed to the ONE who cannot be controlled!!!

The New Testament theme of hope (elpis) is very much dependent upon the Old Testament.  Perhaps it accounts for the very rare use of hope by the Gospel writers.  And yet again why Paul, the Bible scholar of Christendom would entertain the theme in all 13 of the Letters that bear his name.

For Paul faith, hope and love constitutes the very existence of life in Christ.  Hope is not concerned with man’s projection of the future possibilities for his personal life, but with the confidence which waits patiently for the gift of God!  Further, when this gift is received, hope does not rest in possession but assurance that God will maintain what he has given.  OK Dr. Briggs, ‘The Gift and The Giver’.

For now, in this space and time: “faith, hope and love abide…” —and hope is in the center?!  Happy and Hopeful New Year!  Yeah! Hope-filled New Year.  That’s the ticket!  And Hope is right smack dab,,, in the Middle.

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Faith of A Mustard Seed

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