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Hope and Life

The old saying runs "while (or whilst) there's life, there's hope" (we'll not drag the grammar police in to the conversation!!); generally meaning that so long as we are still here, hope remains.  But I have found myself mulling this over in reverse, and wondering if it's more the case that "whilst there's hope, there's life."

Let me explain!  Tomorrow I will be attending the funeral of a young friend of mine whose life ebbed away within days of being told there was no further treatment possible.  The change from being alert and fully engaged in life to very ill and ebbing away was sudden and co-terminus with the last "I'm sorry".  It is beyond dispute that her metastatic cancer was incredibly aggressive, and maybe the speed it ran its course would have been the same with or without the hope she had been given by eminent professionals, but I do wonder if when hope fades, life follows fast.  Certainly I have seen time and again how people with terminal conditions and end-stage disease defy predictions because they still have hope... Hope that they will see a loved one's birthday, wedding, graduation... hope that a friend travelling for afar will be seen one last time... hope that some last wish will find fulfilment.  Once those hopes have been fulfilled, there is no further need for life, as we know it, and the transition to the mystery of death can be amazingly swift.  It doesn't always happen - I'm not that naive, some people will die with last wishes unfulfilled - but there does seem to be a link between hope and life.

Hope, understood properly, and especially theologically, is not mere 'wishful thinking', rather it carries a sense of expectation, of confidence that it's end is realisable.

If hope sustains life, maybe even extends it in the case of people whose lives are drawing to a close, then the impact of hopelessness, of loss of hope or loss of dreams is especially serious.  I wonder, too, whether the same applies at a corporate level - organisations, churches and so forth.  If we run out of hope, or at least run out of things to hope for, do we inevitably find our life ebbing away?  Is it possible that we need is not more energy, not more money but more dreams?

I don't know - this is as ever me thinking out loud, playing with ideas as they pop in to my head...  There is an oft quoted out of context verse from Proverbs that says "where there is no vision the people perish".  I am not convinced I can simply apply it here, but vision, revelation and hope all have rich theological significance and are associated with life, even abundant life, life in its fullness.

Rightly or wrongly, I think I am persuaded that "whilst there's hope there's life", even if maybe I need to 'unpack' what I mean by 'hope' and 'life'.


  • I like your way of thinking.

  • So true. I've seen it many times.

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