The story has been told and retold countless times: a young hero discovers that he or she – while living a mundane life – is part of a grand story of resistance to evil, and our hero embraces the discovery of their place in the fight and goes on to win the first battle with the war just starting.
A series of movies is thus born and 40 years after the release of ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’, we have 10 movies in the franchise with who knows how many more on the way? As many as the House of Mouse (Disney) can manage to squeeze revenue out of. Will the commercial imperative to do a thing to death destroy the artistry of George Lucas’ vision? We’ll soon find out.
Along with Luke Skywalker’s discovery of his purpose and the hope of establishing emancipation from the stomping Empire, we journey to seeming hopelessness when ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and all seems lost. ‘The Return of the Jedi’ completes the trilogy and by the end the Death Star is destroyed along with the Empire and Luke has managed to redeem the soul of Anakin Skywalker who forsakes his Darth Vader persona.
The idea of hope isn’t merely a device, a hook on which to hang a story. For the Christian, hope is substantive, meat and potatoes, albeit future meat and potatoes.
There is a genuine idea that the Christian has a hope, a kind that is audacious to believe in, stunningly naive to the mind of an atheist, but that nonetheless exists. Its not something like fingers-crossed and whimsical, like discovering that fairies live in the bottom of your garden.
The hope for the Christian is an end to suffering, but that the suffering we endure has a purpose.
The hope of the Christian is a glorified body where there is no entropy, no decay, astigmatism, cancer, slow metabolism or anything of the sort; no susceptibility to colds or flu, communion with our Maker as it was meant to be.
“18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children,* including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope* for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)” (Romans 8, NLT)
How can we trust that this hope isn’t just a sham?
When I purchase a burger at Burger King, I shell out money and receive a ticket or receipt with a number and I wait for word from the counter that my meal is ready. The principle is the same operational idea of our hope. While we wait, we get a promise in writing, something to hold onto.
As Believers, we have the Holy Spirit as a promise of our future hope. The analogy of course is very basic and inadequate. More than merely a flimsy receipt, the Holy Spirit dwells in the Believer and gives us hope in our otherwise hopelessness.
A receipt for goods is one thing, that’s a contract; God’s way is covenant, much stronger and in a whole different class than a contract.
When we think sin is going to drag us down, all of a sudden He puts our feet back on the narrow path. He helps us to read the promises of Scripture and see that they will be fulfilled, no matter our present circumstances.
The Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. This week I listened over and over again to Tim Timmons’ song: Cast My Cares:
I have brought my cares to Him and will continue to do so, but sometimes in my weakness, in the midst of a desperate situation, I have no idea what to pray and how it can glorify Him. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us and expresses to the Father the things that we can’t even understand.
That’s a present help and a future hope.