I am preaching at our church this coming Sunday on â€œHope Deferred.â€ Our texts are Psalm 25 and Hebrews 11:32-12:3. Itâ€™s been a fascinating week of study, thinking, and prayer as I work on this message. Here are three quotes that have been fresh in mind as I prepared for Sunday.
â€œThe waters have risen and severe storms are upon us, but we do not fear drowning, for we stand firmly upon a rock. Let the sea rage, it cannot break the rock … What are we to fear? Death? Life to me means Christ, and death is gain. Exile? â€˜The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord.â€™ The confiscation of goods? We brought nothing into this world, and we shall surely take nothing from it. I have only contempt for the worldâ€™s threats, I find its blessings laughable. I have no fear of poverty, no desire for wealth. I am not afraid of death nor do I long to live, except for your good. I concentrate therefore on the present situation, and I urge you, my friends, to have confidence.â€
– Excerpt from a homily by St. John Chrysostom (Ante exsilium, nn. 1-3, PG 52, 427-430). (Thanks to a college student friend for pointing me to this one.)
â€œâ€¦ the only sure source of our consolation: by the good and admirable providence of God the things which we consider adverse somehow contribute to our salvation. We defraud God unless each of us lives and dies in utter dependence upon His sovereign and good will.â€
â€“ John Calvin, letter to a pastor friend who had also lost his wife to death, 1557 (canâ€™t remember the date exactly).
â€œAnd now Christianity! Christianity teaches that this single human being, and so every single human being, whether husband, wife, servant girl, cabinet minister, merchant, barber, student, etc., this single human being is before God â€¦ in short this human being has an invitation to live on the most intimate footing with God! Furthermore, for this personâ€™s sake, for the sake of this very person too, God comes to the world, lets himself be born, suffers, dies; and this suffering God, he will-nigh begs and implores the human being to accept the help offered to him! Truly, if there is anything one should lose oneâ€™s mind over, this is it!â€
– Soren Kierkegaard, A Sickness Unto Death, 117-118. (see also 100-110 on Kierkegaard defining sin as â€œbefore God, or with the conception of God, in despair not wanting to be oneself, or wanting in despair to be oneself.â€)