2017 AHEAD- HOPING AGAINST HOPE

It is truly amazing to feel the energy to celebrate the coming of a new year. People feel compelled to do something special- to go somewhere, to eat out, to party, to attend a show and so on. The religiously inclined might decide to spend the time at church or a temple ushering in the New Year. There is a compulsion to somehow be awake to usher in the New Year at midnight. Be it the partying hard of the secular or the chanting of the religious, the night is filled with excitement and finally the countdown arrives. As the clock strikes midnight, fireworks erupt, the ball drops and candles are lighted. And then—— you go home empty, lonely and in despair. Because what lies ahead is the same drudgery of life that you tried hard to escape in the heat of the moment.

What exactly is man seeking for when he celebrates the coming of the New Year? Primarily, there is the anticipation or the hope that the future will be brighter and better than what has been so far. Why do we look for a better future? Why not be satisfied with what is? Because we live in time and hope is a byproduct of being temporal beings, who are not comfortable with their temporal existence. If I were entirely satisfied with the fact that living each moment is all there is, there would not be a need to look forward.

But there is eternity in the heart of every man- the same desire that propels man to live on and on, to overcome adversity and fight disease. Every single hope that man has for his temporal future is a subset and a reflection of that eternal hope. And if there is no real eternal hope for man, the subsidiary hopes that he might have like hoping for a better New Year, soon fades into meaninglessness.

He is like a man who is drifting down a river with its strong current, who knows that two miles down the river is a waterfall that will wreck his life for sure. But he tries his best to enjoy the river while he can- the warmth of the water, the waves rippling on the rocks and the elegant scenery. He distracts his mind with these small pleasures of life, but is reminded soon enough that death is near and inevitable. All he can do is hope against hope that he will escape the waterfall, because the distractions barely help against a background of ultimate hopelessness. He sees a sign that a mile further on the bank of the river, is the tree that produces the most delicious fruit. He looks forward to eating one of those, but the hope of eating that fruit cannot mask the fact that soon after he is left with no hope at all.

When there is no eternal hope, any temporal hope is meaningless.

 Now imagine if a helicopter came to his rescue- he agrees to be rescued and fastens the harness from the copter around his body. He now has a hope beyond the waterfall. Now he knows that when he reaches the waterfall, the harness will lift him up so that not only will he not die, rather be lifted up to an entirely new and rich experience, an experience where he is no longer trapped in the flowing river. And so what does such a person do? He sets himself to enjoy the river without the desperation that others would have- he discovers so much more than what he could otherwise see, he looks forward to eating the fruit and so much more because his temporal hopes are made meaningful within the context of the ultimate hope he has.

See the connection- for having meaningful hopes like a better 2017, it is essential to have the eternal hope in God- that you will live beyond the grave, that the waterfall of death cannot wreck you. I know of no other harness we have than Jesus and the salvation that comes from believing in him. He is the only harness that has been given to all irrespective of birth, the quality of life you lived and the access you have to intermediaries. You could refuse that harness and continue to ride along and let the waterfall consume you, or you could let him give you the hope of eternity against which you no longer have to hope against hope!

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