Mar 25 2015

Hope Springs Eternal

_DSC8730I am blessed to live just a mile from John James Audubon State Park in Henderson, Kentucky.  After work today I decided to head that way and take a walk.  It didn’t take long for me to come to the conclusion that spring has definitely arrived in western Kentucky.  Not only were there the proverbial robins hopping around, there were wildflowers everywhere.  I saw Dutchmen’s breeches, toothwort, squirrel corn and bloodroot in bloom.  I also observed Virginia bluebells, trillium and anemones beginning to emerge.  In only a matter of days there will be a wonderful floral display for anyone willing to take even a short walk in the woods.  If I had taken the same walk just a couple of weeks ago I would not have seen the many flowers I did this afternoon.  Winter still held its grip on the landscape.  I may not have been able to see them then but I would have known that they were coming.  Spring wildflowers are as predictable as spring itself.  Even on the most frigid snowy day of winter you know it’s just a matter of weeks before you will begin to see new life emerging from the earth.

_DSC8705Alexander Pope long ago penned the famous line “hope springs eternal.”  Nature has a way of reminding us that things do not remain as they are.  Spring always follows winter.  In fact, it is the hope of spring’s arrival that enables a lot of us to get through the dreary and cold days of winter.  In winter’s darkest hour we know a brighter day is coming.

There is a corresponding truth in the spiritual realm.  Many people experience times in their life that may well be compared to the cold and dark days of winter.  These times can come in any season of the year or in our lives.  We get discouraged or depressed.  We feel lonely and isolated.  Some may begin to lose hope when winter seems to characterize their lives.  But I believe that hope truly does spring eternal, that there is always hope of better days to come. This hope is based purely on my faith in God.

_DSC8718Hebrews 11:1 says “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  When it’s winter in our lives, just like when it’s winter in nature, we have the assurance that spring will come.  My faith leads me to believe that with God in the picture there is always a better day to come.  I am certainly not naïve; I realize that here on earth that the “better day” we desire does not always arrive.  Still I am “sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  I believe that this life is not all that there is and that there is a far better day waiting for us on the other side of death’s door.  One way or another a better day is coming!

I think I now understand why God arranged for Easter to take place in spring…

–Chuck

(I took the pictures used above at John James Audubon State Park this afternoon.)


Mar 2 2011

“Hope Springs Eternal”

Bernheim-Forest-spring-hIt’s a beautiful day here in eastern Kentucky.  When I took my dog out a few minutes ago the sun was shining brightly, the birds were singing and I could see some trees starting to bud.  I realize that Spring has not technically arrived yet but it’s clear it will soon be here.  As I was walking outside the phrase “hope springs eternal” crossed my mind for some reason.   I couldn’t recall where these words came from so I looked it up.  They were spoken by Alexander Pope in his Essays on Man: “Hope springs eternal in the human breast, man never is, but always to be blest.”

When I found the source I also came across several other wonderful quotations that speak of hope.  Emily Dickenson wrote “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tunes without the words and never stops at all.”  A more contemporary writer, Anne Lamott, writes “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.”  Finally, Charles L. Allen wrote “When you say a situation or a person is hopeless, you are slamming the door in the face of God.”

Hope is a very important part of our lives.  It has been said that humans can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only one second without hope.  It is literally true; people do not survive long without hope.

nuthatch-In recent days some things have happened that have gotten me down.  I have been both discouraged and frustrated.  I don’t like being in this state but things happen and this is part of life.  Thankfully, I have learned from God’s “two books,” the book of Creation and the book we call the Bible, that bad times don’t last forever.  Most of the trees in my area are bare right now but soon all will be green.  Nature has many reminders that life goes on; things do not remain the same.  The Bible, likewise, is filled with passages that remind us that with God in our life there are no hopeless situations and that one way or another a better day truly does lie ahead.  The apostle Paul went so far as to say “everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)

Later in Romans 15 Paul shared a blessing with the church at Rome.  He said, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (v. 13)  That is my prayer for you today as well.  In Creation and the Scriptures I have come to see that Alexander Pope is right, hope really does “spring eternal.”

–Chuck

(I took the top picture one spring at Bernheim Forest in central Kentucky.  I took the image of the nuthatch in my yard when I lived in Middlesboro, Kentucky.)