The Value of Something
During a speaking engagement at the University of Illinois, I was handed a question scribbled on a note card from a student who hesitated to come to the microphone. It read, "The state of humankind as we know it is on a serious downward spiral, and from my perspective, it's only getting worse. Do you have any hope in the future of humankind and specifically our generation, and if so, why?"
I was both saddened and heartened to read his question. Overwhelmed by the maze of conflicts facing humanity, this young heart sought a way out. And I believe he represents large numbers of young people in the world. Contrary to the "couldn't care less" image we are often given of university students, he revels how close to cynicism—and pessimism—many of them actually are.
Students today are not easily taken in; they do not trust readily. But their questions show a depth and an understanding of our world that is lost in the shuffle of cultural cynicism and hopeless pessimism.
Here, G.K. Chesterton makes a significant point: there is a world of difference between sorrow and pessimism. He explains, "Sorrow is founded on the value of something, and pessimism upon the value of nothing."(1) In terms of hope for the future, this makes all the difference.
What thoughts occupy my mind as I ponder the world at this present time? Above anything else, I, like the young man from the university, want to believe in hope for the future. I see reason for sorrow, but it is founded on the value of so much. Hope, like character, takes years to build and minutes to shatter. But friends, hope, like character, can also rise beyond the moment to reinvest in what is of ultimate value—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This hope points in cumulative strength to the person and power of a God who is real, and will not let you down.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings,
knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character,
and character produces hope,
and hope does not put us to shame,
because God's love
has been poured into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit
who has been given to us."