THE ADVANTAGE OF CHRISTIAN HOPE
1. He who hopes in God enjoys the special protection of God.
Examples may be seen in the three children in the furnace, in Joseph in the Egyptian prison, in our blessed Lady when St. Joseph had thoughts of putting her away. Modern history has also its examples, as when Vienna was besieged by the Turks in 1683. Two hundred and fifty thousand Turks were investing the city, which was defended by a garrison of sixteen thousand Christians. Again and again were the enemy repulsed, though the ramparts had been undermined and blown up. Yet as the case of the Christians became more desperate, so increased their trust in God; and at the last extremity there appeared Sobieski’s force, an army of some ninety thousand men. The battle lasted but a day, and the Turks were put to complete rout. God protects those who hope in Him (Dan. xiii. 60). “A Christian whose hope is in God may be oppressed, but he cannot be overcome,” says St. Cyprian. “Such a one,” adds St Francis of Sales, “is like a general backed by a strong reserve. * They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Sion” (Ps. cxxiv. 1). If a man puts his entire confidence in God, God takes him under His special protection, and he may be certain that no harm will come to him (St. Vincent of Paul). The greater our confidence in God, the more certainly will He protect us and come to our help in all dangers (St. Francis of Sales). No one hath hoped in the Lord and been confounded (Ecclus. ii. 11). “We will not have you as the heathens that have no hope” (1 Thess. iv. 12).
2. He who hopes in God can obtain everything from Him; for Christ said that such a one might move mountains (Mark xi. 23).
St. Gregory Thaumaturgus did literally move a mountain. Such was the confidence of Moses when he divided the Red Sea with his staff, and of Elias when he prayed for rain. “Hope is an arrow which pierces the Heart of Christ, and opens the founts of His mercy to the soul that hopes in Him.” “A man gets just as much as he hopes for” (St. John of the Cross).
3. He who hopes in God is strengthened by God, so that he is not afraid of man, and is patient and courageous in suffering, and more especially in face of death.
We have examples in David before Goliath and Leo before Attila. St. Martin was once attacked by robbers who threatened his life; when they asked why he did not fear, he made reply: “I am a Christian and under God’s protection. I have no need to fear; on the contrary, it is you who ought to be afraid.” The man whose trust is in God troubles himself little about the favors of the great or the sayings of his fellow-men; such was St. Paul’s attitude (1 Cor. iv. 3). He who puts his trust in God will be patient in suffering, for he knows “that the sufferings of this time are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come that shall be revealed in us” (Rom. viii. 18). Job was patient in the midst of his sufferings because he looked forward to the resurrection (Job xix. 25). How can he be unhappy who looks to the unspeakable reward of heaven? St. Paul calls to us amid his sufferings: “I exceedingly abound with joy in all our tribulations” (2 Cor. vii. 4). “To die is gain . . . having a desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ” (Phil. i. 21-23); and again, “As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just Judge, will render to me in that day” (2 Tim. iv. 8). So joyful was the death of St. Andrew (62 A.D.), that when he saw the cross on which he was to die, he exclaimed: “Hail, blessed cross, sanctified by the death of my God; with transports of joy I come to you; how long have I sought you, how long have I desired you!” St. Ignatius (107 A.D.), Bishop of Antioch, rejoiced when he heard his condemnation from the mouth of the Emperor Trajan; and when the Christians in Rome were planning to set him free, he prayed them not to deprive him of his martyr’s crown: “I fear neither the beasts nor the rending of my limbs, if only I can win Christ;” and so we find innumerable instances in the lives of the saints. Hope is the anchor of the soul (Heb. vi. 19). Like the eagle soaring into the light of the sun, it rises above the cares and sorrows of earth.
4. He who hopes in God is impelled to the performance of good works and of heroic acts.
This is the secret of the zeal of missionaries in the land of the heathen. The hope of the Christian is something more solid than that of the husbandman, or the warrior, or the artist. “He hopes for that which Truth itself has promised,” says St. Paulinus. Our hope is as certain as though it were already an accomplished fact (St. Augustine).