Are you a hopeful person? Are you hope-filled? If I called a meeting of the people who know you best and asked them to describe you, would I hear the word hope in their answer?
I’ve had reason to wonder this about myself over the past few months.
I recently heard the Good News/Bad News Fable and thought I would share it with you. Perhaps you’ve heard it before.
There once was a farmer who had an old, sick horse. He decided to let the horse go so it could live out its final days meandering in the fields. A few days later, hearing this, the villagers came by one by one to offer their condolences. They said: “You only have this one horse. How will you work the land? This is such bad news. We are sorry.” To which the farmer said: “We shall see.”
A few days later, that horse after having been rejuvenated, returned to the farmer but accompanied by twelve young, wild horses that had followed it back to the corral. The villagers said: “This is incredible news. Congratulations.” The farmer simply said: “We shall see.”
Now after a few additional days passed, the farmer’s only son was training one of the new horses and was thrown and broke his leg. The villagers stopped by to say: “How terrible. Now your son can’t work the land with a broken leg. This is very bad news indeed.” The farmer calmly replied: “We shall see.”
Some time later, while the son was recuperating, soldiers rode into the village to collect all the able bodied young people to fight in a war that had broken out. Because of the son’s broken leg, he was unable to go to the front. The villagers congratulated the farmer, saying: “It’s great that you son did not have to go.” And of course, the farmer said: “We shall see.”
Now this fable continues on but… you get the point. Good news or bad news might not actually end up being either. You need the passage of time, you need circumstance and context to dictate. As a photography enthusiast, I think about using a zoom lens. As I peer out across the broad landscape, if I zoom in I can only see a small portion of the scene. And while that can make a great image, I’m usually more inclined to zoom out, way out, so I can see the big picture. Those are the photos I tend to like to take.
Our lives, everything we experience, everything we feel, and all that we can see is like that lens zoomed in. It’s what we know. But Jesus tells us that the lens can be zoomed out, way out… that there is more to experience, more to see.
In today’s second reading from Peter, we hear the line: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” (1 Peter 3:15-18). The line doesn’t say “you ought to have hope” but rather that is inferred, expected. As a follower of Jesus, we are to have hope. Why? Because we know there is more.
Jesus, through leadership, through teaching, through service, through sacrifice and through the promise he made to his followers… and to you and to me… gave us this gift of hope. If our lives are filled with uncertainty, fear, or pain… then we can zoom the lens back out and know that he accompanies us always, that he is actually by our side and that if we follow his lead, we can walk with him into eternity.
There is a reason for our hope. And we are called to live as a people of hope and furthermore, to let those who witness our hope know that Jesus is the very reason for it.
When confronted with the darkest moments of our lives… let us confidently say…
We shall see.
We shall see.