It was Sunday evening and I had just gotten off the phone with a good friend. We had had a difficult conversation as he recently was jilted by his fiance (my best friend) and the pain was overwhelming. The good faith that he had extended finally had been broken irrevocably, and he seemed on the verge of despair, as complete as his love for his now-ex had been. What could I say in the face of this so-specific sorrow for which there seemed no hope of remedy?
Not much, let me tell you. But later on that night I picked up a new book and within the first 10 pages found exactly what to say.
"What kind of hope shall we have? Not hope in a certain outcome from a particular event taking place at one moment in time....that isn't really hope; that's more of a test. It's asking for proof that God is with us, rather than taking the risk of commitment to a better future God has in mind even though we can't see it now.... [Hope in a certain outcome] is probably closer to despair in some ways than it is to hope; it means you've almost given up already, and you're just waiting for the last straw.
But the hope God gives us is a hope in the larger unfolding of God's grace and goodness transcending the immediate present. The hope God gives us is a deep confidence that the whole world is held in loving and compassionate hands, and that even the things that go so terribly wrong are being transformed into instruments of healing and grace.”
There is perhaps no higher praise for a book than to say it matters. Right
now, this book matters. And as I sat at my computer that Sunday night and awkwardly held the book open with one hand and typed those words with the other, eventually hitting "send," I knew that I had stumbled upon a special book.
That book is Finding Hope, by fellow FaithfulReader.com contributor Marcia Ford. One need only turn on the television to understand the global implications of a book on hope. In this fearful moment, we are beset by war and the spectre of more war against a foe as unwieldy as evil. Is there any hope that this violence will result in peace?
But while these concerns are writ large on the nightly news, they remain largely abstract because most of us do not have a loved one in the military. Instead, we suffer through strained friendships, broken vows and wayward children. In view of these things we ask, "Is there any hope for me?" On both scores, the global and the personal, Ford offers stirring reflections on the accessiblity of hope even in the darkest of situations. Notably for Ford, faith and hope are inextricably linked.
She writes, "Like God, hope changes everything. When we come to know God, our lives are transformed; our eyes see the unseen, our ears hear the unspoken, our spirits sense the inexpressible. When we come to know hope, our lives are also transformed. We see the impossible made possible, we hear silent words of encouragement, we imagine the unimaginable."
In 24 brief chapers Ford offers such wisdom about hope and then provides opportunities for the reader to both reflect on and practice what it would be like to live in light of such hope. A keen volume full of the sort of inspiration that sticks to your bones, Finding Hope is itself a wonderful find.
Reviewed by Lisa Ann Cockrel on November 1, 2006