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Summary: This text is troubling because it doesn’t seem to connect, but when you dig in it has a beautiful message of praying for the nations.

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Experiencing Hope/Expressing Hope

(Mark 11:1-24)

Sometimes we have a conception that people who approach life in a lighthearted manner don’t take things seriously enough. We often believe that they don’t care about things, that they have a kind of laize faire approach toward life, that they have adopted a blended "don’t worry, be happy" "hakuna matata" attitude.

Could it be that for many people, who approach life with a lightheart, they do so because they have a sense of hope that we don’t completely understand or know nothing about? And if we knew and understood the reason for the hope that they profess, their actions would make complete sense to us.

Peter told the Persian believers in his first letter, "Always be ready to give a reason for the hope you profess."

So, what is our hope?

All too often, hope is pessimistically defined as the little boy did when he said: "Hope is wishing for something you know ain’t gonna happen."

Hope is not wishful thinking.

In 1965, naval aviator James B. Stockdale became one of the first American pilots to be shot down during the Vietnam War. As a prisoner of the Vietcong, he spent seven years as a POW, during which he was frequently tortured in an attempt to break him and get him to denounce the U. S. involvement in the war. He was chained for days at a time with his hands above his head so that he could not even swat the mosquitoes. Today, he still cannot bend his left knee and walks with a severe limp from having his legs broken by his captors and never reset. One of the worst things done to him was that he was held in isolation away from the other American POWs and allowed to see only his guards and interrogators.

How could anyone survive seven years of such treatment? As he looks back on that time, Stockdale says that it was his hope that kept him alive. Hope of one day going home, that each day could be the day of his release. Without hope, he knew that he would die in hopelessness, as others had done.

Such is the power of hope that it can keep one alive when nothing else can.

In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl, successor of Sigmund Freud at Vienna, argued that the "loss of hope and courage can have a deadly effect on man." As a result of his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp, Frankl contended that when a man no longer possesses a motive for living, no future to look forward, he curls up in a corner and dies. "Any attempt to restore a man’s inner strength in camp," he wrote, "had first to succeed in showing him some future goal."

Some years ago a hydroelectric dam was to be build across a valley in New England. The people in a small town in the valley were to be relocated because the town itself would be submerged when the dam was finished. During the time between the decision to build the dam and its completion, the buildings in the town, which previously were kept up nicely, fell into disrepair. Instead of being a pretty little town, it became an eyesore.

Why did this happen? The answer is simple. As one resident said, "Where there in no faith in the future, there is no work in the present."


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