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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A World with Hope

Ephesians 2:12 (NIV) 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.

I streamed Hunger Games a couple of days ago. I was totally unaware of the trilogy written by Suzanne Collins. I didn't know that this series is voraciously read by young people. It is second only to the Harry Potter books. And, honestly, I struggled with the movie. It disturbed me so much that it took three days for me to complete it.

I thought the movie was well written, directed and acted. I believe it captured its conflict well though I am not sure that most would understand what that conflict is. I am afraid people will think this is about the complications of love. It isn't. The movie is about hope or rather hopelessness.

I wondered why so many young people would read and watch this movie. Why would they want to see a movie that describes a bleak future? It this the future that they expect? Do they, like these characters, live without hope? Do they strive to simply make it to another day denying satisfaction to those who manipulate them?

I remember hearing , "the future is what you make it," when I was young. I found that to be somewhat false. There are factors which prevent you from making some futures. I was never big, fast or strong enough to play football beyond high school. I couldn't change that future.

But the impossible nature of some futures does not mean that the future must be bleak. I, like everyone else on this planet, must realize that I am a unique individual with a unique future. However, that doesn't mean that my future must be my own making. It means my future is mine to discover rather than make.

That doesn't mean that I have a script that I follow along either. I have a hope that is created in me to live out the life God has intended. It is a hope which causes me to listen. It is a hope that causes me to take another step. It is a hope that is neverending and never really fully explained. I hope for that which I do not see for this is the nature of hope.

Romans 8:24-25 (NIV) 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

This hope has a good future. I got the impression that the characters in Hunger Games were just making it from one day to another until they died. They made statements like, "I will never have children." They didn't want to bring new life into this world for it was hopeless. They could never see a good future.

But why should young people believe in a good future? Haven't they been told that they won't have life as good as their parents? Haven't they been stripped of faith? Isn't the current culture turning away from a God who loves them and creates a life of meaning for them? Don't they understand that life is merely like the television show Survivor? Someday they will just get voted off the island.

I, for one, do not understand how anyone can live in such a state of hopelessness. I do not understand how anyone can be callous about life. I struggled with this future of Hunger Games because I believe that these young people just might believe that there isn't anything more than what they can see. I understood why they would go into schools, theaters or churches killing people. If all these people are hopeless, what difference does it make how long they live?

Yes, things are tough but they are not terminal. Yes, there are struggles but they do not have to spell defeat. But these words take hope if they are to have any meaning. They require Someone who can make things better. They require Someone who can bring hope.

I never really thought how much faith and hope have to do with each other. We put our faith in Someone. That faith is one which contains hope. There can be no real separation between the two. I can't simply hope in fate. It holds no future. It merely accepts the odds.

I believe we can have more hope that anyone can imagine. I believe that there is a good future available to everyone. I believe that there is a life better than the one we are living today. I have hope and it holds me as I hold onto it. I believe in a world with hope.

Hebrews 10:23 (NIV) 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.


Deb Willbefree said...

I haven't seen Hunger Games, so I only know what I've heard or read. I have wondered if the young people were drawn to the books, then the movie, out of a desire to see BIG unfairness, BIG helplessness, Big struggle in which teens have some "stake in the game" and are not simply bystanders, watching the adult dramas unfold.

I wonder if seeing all of the pain portrayed in such a big way, helps them to put their own hopelessness and pain in perspective. they can feel both kinship and relief at the same time.

It tells them that teens can be heroes and can love and can make hard choices...or be evil and selfish. And the movie tells them that other teens have difficult things--and their own difficult thing is no where near as bad as what they see on the screen.

Perhaps a kind of hope results, after all. A hope that they, too, can be heroes and make unselfish choices.

Personally, from what I've seen and heard, I found the movie disturbing. On several counts, but not least of all disturbing that our culture has degenerated to the point that this is what teens use to give themselves hope and a frame of reference to judge their own lives.

There is such a better source of hope and reference, isn't there? It makes me sad for us all.


Prentis McGoldrick said...

Yes, I too was disturbed. Teens are often thrust into two worlds. They are physically capable of acting like adults but most often lack the maturing to make the decisions to act so responsibly. The teems are able to discern that their own parents are acting irresponsibly. Often there is very little difference between the parent and child when it comes to maturity. Thus, they may want to state that they can make responsible decisions; more responsible than the adults who run their world. Maybe this is the message I should have gotten out of Hunger Games. I had not thought of that. Thanks, Prentis

high-expressions said...

I have NOT read the book or seen the movie, and decided to read about it on the net, and I read the write-up on Wikipedia; but I suppose one cannot get much from such a Wiki write-up; and so, I shan't say anything concerning the movie or the book, but comment generally, as to the theme of the entry of Ps Prentis.

The point is that many people are tired of life. Many young people; but there are also adults, and older folks, too. In fact, more recently, because of my contact with one chap who works in the grass-root organisation of the ruling party of the country, I learnt that in my ageing country (I supposed, many other countries are too, since there was no "world" war after the Second World War!, and people are just NOT having children!), there are actually increasing incidences of older people committing suicide. I was told that it is NOT so apparent because media coverage was often avoided.

I said many are "tired" of living; that's really a general way of saying thing; why do people end their lives, really? I suppose there are many reasons; in Japan, now, they have a standard list of 50! For statistical analysis, up to 3 reasons can be assigned to each death! Why do people want to end their life?

I attempt to put them in these categories:

1. Inability to cope
2. Inability to see beyond
3. Not wanting to be a burden
4. Incorrect view of life ownership
5. The devil at work

People can give up their life when they find it too difficult to cope. Some people cannot cope well with their job, their relationships, and if they were stricken by some debilitating ailment, cannot cope with even daily routines of life; and when they have NOT help, they could really dread life. Recently, a woman whom I ministered; she was probably in her early thirties; she said life was meaningless. She shared that she did NOT enjoy her marriage, and she now struggled with her job in a church (mind you, even a job in a church, can be such a stress!), and she has responsibility financially for her aged mother, too. She dreaded the job, but she also needed the job, and she could NOT stand the work-environment – the fellow colleagues, again mind you, a church (NOT my church-lah)! Society’s culture and views shift more rapidly nowadays, especially, due to the increasing globalization that has made the world much, much smaller, and if you are living in a small country, it can come at you at accelerated speed.

Singapore, for example, is a small country, and is almost completely opened, and has to take all the hits coming from all directions. She is NOT with natural resources; the only thing she has is people and a good government. She has done remarkably well, in the last 47 years (we just celebrated our National Day). But increasingly, she finds it facing steep competition from neighbours and other countries in the world. The pressure necessarily falls on the only resource she has, her people.

high-expressions said...

Cont from above

The pressure cooker is pumping out steam signals of “more and more, for less”; higher productivity and higher value-add, more efficiency and more productivity; be smarter and be more creative, be more superior beings than others! If one is average, one can still try to cope, but if you are below average, and circumstances somehow are working against you, you really can be struggling. When people cannot cope, and help is NOT around, they might just decide to end it all. Of course, people who cannot cope with work and/or relationships could also be struggling with coping with their inner clock of emotions.

For such, where cometh hope? It is NOT as simple as they don’t know God-what; get them to become a Christian, that will do it! No, the woman I talked about, above, she is a Christian of many years, yet she still struggles.

Actually, God already gave the answer, but how many of us really bother with it! In a way, Deb, a more recent commenter on this site, said something right when Ps Prentis posed the State Welfarism issue, a couple of days ago; he, Deb, said it is because we, believers, were NOT doing the things we were supposed to do, and so, the government had to step in. Well, Communism never really worked; it did NOT work in China or Russia; that kind welfarism or the kind modeled along those ideologies of Communism (many years, I happened to read a good book on the ideologies of Communism) is NOT the way to go, but brotherly love is definitely something that will go a long way to give hope to such people who are struggling to cope.

The story of the Good Samaritan does NOT support State Welfarism, but it sure points to us having to show brotherly love to another man. Do you stop to help? Are you the Good Samaritan; or are you the priest or the Levite? Who is going to stop for the woman I talked about, above? Or are we going to say, everybody has his own set of problems, I take care of mine, you just have to take care of yours; don’t look at me!? James 1:27 tells us what religion our Father God accepts as pure and faultless; and it is this: “to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Please do NOT say this one is NOT orphan-what or that one is no widow either. If you think that way, you are being legalistic with God. Well, the chap who got robbed in the Good Samaritan Story, he is no orphan or widow! Believers really have to do more, in their communities, to be God’s love, practically, to those in need of help, who are finding it hard to cope with life.

Inability to see beyond – “I will be made a bankrupt” or “I am being divorced, and so, I will be alone (get divorced when you are beyond 45!)!” or “I will be bedridden!” Indeed, these are serious scenarios, and it is dampening to the strongest of spirit. For some, the impact is NOT just that; they crumble under the weight of such - they will tell you, they cannot see beyond, or as more commonly said, “No more can they see any light at the end of the tunnel”. Actually, there is light at the end of the tunnel, but they cannot see it; it is a case of seeing but NOT seeing. For such, they can want to end it all. Such need help, also; but the help is of a different kind of the 1st class above. We can offer little practical help to change the setting that they in, the person would definitely be made bankrupt or divorce papers have been filed (under the Woman Charter, a woman can almost always get a divorce, if she wants), and sickness have destroyed such and such of the body (we can pray for supernatural intervention of God, though), but we can counsel the person to see beyond; but it can be tough, and demanding. Would you care enough?

NOT wanting to be a burden – I suspect some of the cases the chap from grass-root organization I referred to, above, included the older folk cases of suicide, and they have to do with this – NOT wanting to be a burden.


high-expressions said...

COnt. from above

Even if it is NOT a case of them wanting to see themselves as a burden to their loved ones like their children, it could be a case of their children “drilling” into them that they are a burden to them, the children. It is sad to learn that Singapore is one of the few countries that have a law to “mandate filial piety”. If the children do NOT provide, the parent can bring the children to court! I mean which parent really wants to do that, and so, heartbroken, they might kill themselves! Or it could really be a simple case of one’s child(ren) is/are already struggling to make ends meet, and so, one just does NOT want to add to the children’s problems by taking up their resources and time. Should or should NOT the State comes in, at times, it is really difficult to balance the “for” and the “against”. Generally speaking, if we are a humane society, the old and sick should be looked after, from a family perspective, as well as from a national perspective.

Incorrect view of life ownership – Who own your life? The State? Your parents? You? Or God? What are being taught to people from young, nowadays? What kind of society values is shaping the minds of our young ones, nowadays? If you had lived in a Communist country, the State owns you! Even today, in China, as has been seen from the revelation in the recent Olympics, sportsmen (actual case, a woman) of China, are still being treated as State property. Death in the family was NOT disclosed to the athlete for more than a year; disclosed only until she won the gold medal at the Olympics!

Do young people still consider their parents when they are thinking consciously about ending their lives (if you are under influence of demonic suggestion, you probably won’t)? We used to say, “You will break your parent’s heart”. I suspect youngsters nowadays, do NOT think so much if their actions would break their parents’ heart. When it is like that, it really points to something is really wrong, with the “connection” between the parents and the children. I am NOT saying parents own your lives, but the connection is increasingly being eroded.

You own your life!? Yah, that seems to be the thinking these days, the “I am my own man” culture. “I do what I want to do; no one is to tell me what to do, including ending my own life!” Parental failures on a massive case, I believe, do contribute to young people thinking that they are a by-product of their parents’ affairs. If our children think, we don’t give a hoot about them, then, really, there is something wrong!
Sure, when we accept Jesus Christ, God owns us, but how many Christians really appreciate that God owning us, means we are precious to Him. Even when one can appreciate it, what is the church’s teaching concerning taking one’s own life? Is it since one is precious to Him, it is completely alright for one to end his life; he still goes to Heaven? Is it NOT, what God wants, is for us to live, until He calls us home, and so, we are being disobedient “big time”, if you choose to end it all, prematurely!
If I may quote Ps Prentis, “I, like everyone else on this planet, must realize that I am a unique individual with a unique future. If indeed each of us is a unique individual with a unique future, prematurely ending the journey here, sure is against God’s will! So, what do we tell people, believers? Do we teach believers to persevere, like what Scripture said, “8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Pet 5:9)? This brings us to the point that the devil is at work.


high-expressions said...

Cont. from above

The devil at work – the above verse, 1 Pet 5:9 tells us that the devil is at work, looking for who he may devour. The Devil comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10a). The Apostle Paul said regardless, 3 things should remain at work, to be subscribed by us, singly or collectively as the church, faith, hope and love. If we believe Paul was correct, and there is no reason to think otherwise, we can be sure Satan will tear away at the 3 things. Basically, Satan is going to attack us on our faith, hope, and love for God and for one another.
Believers or Christians must always put this, in front of them: We have a future that extend beyond our mortal life; and that future is a most beautiful future. We have a living hope in that future; it is a living hope, because of the promises of God, because God remembers, and God cannot lie, for He is a holy God.
But we are still in the world, meaning we are living here, physically, until the Lord calls us home; and so, we have to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world (James 1:27). We must acknowledge that we are being transformed, being worked on, by God, to share in His holiness, so that we can eventually be dwelling with Him in Heaven. Heb 12:10 said this: “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.”
We do NOT only need to acknowledge we are being worked on, we have to be willing to be worked on.
In all of this living-out the righteousness and justice of God, and generally, the ways of God, requires faith. We should know we need to grow in faith and apply our faith in our living. And as we journey on this highway of holiness (Isaiah 35:8-10), we stretch out our hand of love and goodwill to all fellow men, help them to get on the highway, and stay on the highway. That is what God wants; God loves men, and would like as many men as possible be saved (1 Tim 2:4).
We are with hope and the world is with hope because, through Christ Jesus, a super highway, the Way of Holiness, has been opened up for us all, to get to a beautiful future, a beautiful city, the New Jerusalem, in Heaven. We journey on it with a purpose, a purpose of doing the biddings of our Lord, which are the biddings of our Father God (Matt 7:21 – only those do the will of Father God can enter the Kingdom of Heaven), a purpose of perfecting holiness (2 Cor 7:1), and a purpose of wanting to get to Heaven to dwell with God (if you really, really love God, that should be what you will want; you breaks the Father’s heart, if you are nonchalant about it), when He said it is the right time to go. Ps Prentis said it right, He who promised is faithful, we therefore should hold unswervingly the hope we profess (Heb 10:23). Love God and hang in there, for when we love Him, these promises most assuredly are assured to us, Rom 8:28, Ps 91:14-15, Neh 1:5.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions - 23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. (1 Th 5:23-24)

Prentis McGoldrick said...

You couldn't be more right. Discover magazine (October Issue) reports on an aging population. It speaks of many older people committing suicide in Japan. They just can't stand living if there is no hope.So the devil has so deluded them that he roars and finds those who run so he devours them.
There is only one place for true hope.It is in the arms of our Savior