Saturday, August 16, 2008

Is it Really Hope? – M. Laycock

I recently read a hilarious book by Terry Pratchett called Going Postal. If you're a fan of fantasy, you're probably aware of this prolific writer. His imagined worlds are intriguing, his characters quirky, his plots ingenious. I thoroughly enjoyed Going Postal - often laughing out loud as I read it.

But it had one flaw. The main character, Moist Von Lipwig (that's Lip-vig, if you please!), is a con man. He lives his life by one belief - people will always have hope, and if you're smart enough, you can figure a way to make them pay you for it.

The problem is, Mr. Lipwig's definition of the word hope is flawed. To him, the reality of hope means he can make you believe the piece of glass he holds in his hand is really a priceless diamond that he will sell you for a ridiculously low price. He recognizes that part of you will know that “diamond” is not real, but part of you is thinking, what if? Part of you wants to believe what he's telling you. Mr. Lipwig becomes skilled at convincing people that his lies will make them rich. Mr. Lipvig plays not on hope, but on greed.

True hope is something very different indeed. The writer of the book of Romans explains – “Not only so, but we ourselves who have the firstfruits of the Spirit groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:23-25

Pratchett is using the dictionary definition of the word – “expectation and desire combined.”(Canadian Oxford Dictionary). Not a bad definition, but in Prachett’s story we would have to add the greed ingredient – the lust for those things we see in the world around us. To bring us back to biblical hope, I would add the biblical addendum – “hope that is seen is no hope at all.”

Scripture tells us that the whole of creation groans with the anticipation of being redeemed and reunited with the creator. That’s the hope we have, the hope that makes us long for the intimacy of relationship with God, the hope that keeps us hanging on when things look dark, the hope that tells us there is something more than we can see.

It helps to have that kind of hope when our books don't sell and the rejection letters pile up. It helps to know there is a bigger picture and the artist painting it knows exactly what He's doing.

“I pray … that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:18-21

Marcia Lee Laycock, winner of the Best New Canadian Author Award, 2006, for her novel One Smooth Stone. Visit her website –

1 comment:

The Sheepcat said...

True hope is a theological virtue, a supernatural virtue. Even the virtuous pagans of antiquity showed the cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. But hope, hope requires God's revelation of himself.

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