Archive | February, 2011

Un-favorite Quotes

12 Feb

So, a few months back, I listed a couple favorite quotes on here and said I would add to them from time to time.

Well, I have now discovered an “un-favorite” quote, thanks to my new Chicken Soup for the Soul 2011 calendar. It goes something like this:

“Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” ~ Vaclav Havel.

Thanks to CS, Mr. Havel is memorialized with one of his less than stellar collection of words. A remarkable man in his own right, a statesman, playright, internationally acclaimed diplomat, colorful personality and first president of the Czech republic, I’m sure CS could have chosen something a little more representative of his thought and life than this quote! But perhaps not.

For what it is worth, my opinion is that just because someone well-known and acclaimed says something that SOUNDS profound, doesn’t mean it IS profound, much less that it should be REPEATED.

To the contrary, Mr. Havel’s words are a collection of hog-wash when they stand to define what Hope really is. Hope, REAL hope, IS the conviction that ALL THINGS will turn out RIGHT & WELL, and in the end they will also make sense regardless of how it seems now. The fact that we can find the good in “the right and well” of it gives any adverse circumstance purpose, redeeming it from “senseless” to “sense-full”. Anything else or less is NOT hope, but misguided moralistic human philosophy – which in the end amounts to nonsense.

CS quotes Mr. Havel as saying that hope really has nothing to do with the conviction that something will turn out well, but that it makes sense regardless of how it turns out. If all hope is, is the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out, then I for one don’t want any hope! Let me ask this: What makes sense in the tragic death of a sweet little baby girl, who was long desired, adopted and loved by her family, only to drown in a pool before she was three? It doesn’t seem like an event that turned out well, nor does it seem to make sense (morally that is – we can all see that it makes sense intellectually in equations: life is bound to end in death, not being able to swim + falling in water = can’t breathe, no ability to breathe will inevitably result in physical death if there is no assistance, etc.). It didn’t make sense when it happened, and for all practical reasons from my finite stand point, it doesn’t make sense now (I trust someday, when I step into eternity and into Jaweh’s very presence, it WILL make sense when I can see the grand tapestry of His purpose and work through all of human history).What purpose was there in that? If all you can look at me and say is, “Well, I can’t see that there was any good in that at all, so all you can do is be confident somehow it makes sense,” I’m going to have to ask you to take your “comforting” words somewhere else becaue they are no help at all! What I can find hope in, is that it will result in something good and to keep my eyes, mind and heart open to looking for and seeing the good the I HOPE will come from it: example, a young man became a Christ-follower as a result of this little girl’s death, and became a missionary to people in places in Africa where Westerners can’t readily obtain access, much less be able to witness of Christ’s love for sinners; or, after years of being a respected village chief, an old man abandoned the power, darkness and fear of his tribal animistic worship and embraced freedom, light and salvation in Christ; or, schisms between three groups of people were resolved during the grief they all experienced over this little child’s death, drawing them near to each other enough to see the true heart of the others and find forgiveness and solidarity.

Or what about the family that is grieving the early death of a beloved grandmother, wife and mother? Having fought cancer bravely for a year, she was declaired in full remission and lived one of the best years of her life, only to end it sadly in an aggressive return of the cancer which quickly wasted her healthy body into frailty and death at a fairly young age. Words of hope that talk about things “making sense” rather than “turning out for the best” are poor comfort. It would be a sorry thing to show up at the graveside and say “Well, I can’t give you any perspective that there is or will be something good out of this. I can only tell you that I am confident it makes complete sense.” WHAT? Where’s the hope in that? It makes sense? To whom, in what way? Unless you can look around and see that this dear woman’s last year was a successful endeavor to mend broken relationships, spurred on by the awakening she experienced during her cancer fight to the frailty of life and the worth of people; or that her final days were a blessing to anyone and everyone who approached her death bed because of the beauty of her spirit, refined through pain and suffering; or that her obstinate, long-time rejection of the Gospel was vanquished in her last months through her suffering only to reveal a most inspiring love for and faith in Christ, whom she found to be the Savior of her soul for eternity just as her earthly life was ebbing away.

I’m sorry, but when put to the test of life’s circumstances, defining hope on merely what makes sense rather than the conviction that good will come of adversity is a joke. It might sound clever, but it just doesn’t work. Period.

It is the beauty, the good, the “turn out well” found in the midst of things that just don’t make sense to us from our limited viewpoint that fills our hearts with hope. Even if it doesn’t make sense, just for it to have been good-bringing, beauty-bearing gives it purpose, redeems it from “senselessness” and strengthens our hearts with hope, that this attrocity, this tragedy, this sorrow has been (and will be?) worth it all in the end. It is precisely because we hold to the conviction that something will turn out well in the long-run that we can then grasp for the certainty that it also makes sense.

Hope is this: “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.

©2011 Reformation Lady and Chandra E. Wellman. All rights reserved.