How would one visually depict hope? What would it look like? “Hope” is the title of this 1886 painting by George Frederic Watts, an English Victorian painter and sculptor associated with the Symbolist movement. He was famous for his allegorical works such as this, saying, “I paint ideas, not things.” Hope here is blindfolded, attempting to play a lyre that has broken strings. Critics argued that “Despair” would be a more appropriate title. But Watts explained that “Hope need not mean expectancy. It suggests here rather the music which can come from the remaining chord.”

Hebrews 6:19 speaks of hope: “We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and secure.” I don’t know about you, but often life doesn’t feel safe and secure. In the past week, I have sat beside the deathbed of two mothers and stroked their hair. Each one was surrounded by broken-hearted children shedding tears as they said goodbye. That’s hard stuff. Today I spent time with a woman who not only witnessed a sexual assault but was the victim of one as well, and the images of those two events still haunt her. That’s hard stuff.

It feels like hope is trying to play on broken strings.

One of my seminary professors, Dr. David Lose, speaks of hope: “What we see is not all there is, and no matter what may come, God will have the last word, and it will be a good word. The promise of God to bring all things to a good end invites us to live today, even in the most difficult of circumstances, with hope.”

Hope goes deeper than being optimistic or having a Pollyanna view of life. “Optimism,” Lose says, “assumes things will soon get better. Hope testifies that whether things get better or worse, ultimately God’s good will for us and all creation will prevail.”

Being Human connection: God has promised that in the end, all will be well and if all is not well, then it is not the end. That gives me hope.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
-Lamentations 3:21-23

Featured image: George Frederic Watts, Hope, 1886, in Nigel Llewellyn and Christine Riding (eds.), The Art of the Sublime, Tate Research Publication, January 2013, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/the-sublime/george-frederic-watts-hope-r1105604, accessed 26 February 2019.