Hope—Jim Jeffries, Larry Bird, and a Vaccine

‘Hope springs eternal in the human breast.’ —Alexander Pope

We as human beings have been hoping for a lot of things for a long time. The adage ‘hope springs eternal in the human breast’ often captures man’s desire for a better tomorrow. Undoubtedly, we often hope for better finances; hope to find a better job; hope that our job does not become obsolete; hope we get a bonus; hope to pass an exam after studying endlessly, or not; hope to find the right mate; hope we look good on our first date; hope we make a good impression; hope our musical endeavors are well received; hope we don’t mess up; hope our health improves; hope our health does not diminish; hope that our food does not run out; hope that our insurance is sufficient to cover the accident; hope the plants bring forth good fruit; hope there are no pests to bother; hope that relationships mend; hope to arrive safely at our destination; hope that our children turn out to be successful, not indigent or dependent; hope to cure terminal diseases such as cancer or AIDs; hope to alleviate world hunger; hope to break a bad habit with intentional effort; hope to get to mars; hope to stop global warming; hope to get relief from pain; hope to finish a race; hope for good weather; and hope the rain doesn’t fall on our outdoor event. The list can go on and on.

In 1908, Jack Johnson became the first African American world heavyweight. At the time, there was great resentment in the white community towards his accomplishment. Two years afterwards, Jim Jeffries emerged from retirement to fight him. Jeffries was dubbed the ‘Great White Hope.’ However, he along with many others failed for several years to dethrone the champ.

In a sport filled with black professional athletes, the hall of fame basketball player, Larry Bird, was also considered a great white hope of sorts. Bird had a phenomenal career with the Boston Celtics winning three NBA championships, two finals MVPs, and 12 All Star selections among a host of other accolades. Yet, his achievements have hardly had an impact on the number of professional white ballers in the league.

In 2020, we saw the outbreak of a pandemic, and a relentless effort to produce a vaccine to stop its effect. Rightfully so, we hope for eradication of this scourge or at least proper management and control.

With a change in leadership in arguably the most dominant country in the world, we hope for restoration of better world relations, strength in democracy, and resurgence of better values. We hope for social justice. We hope to provide better opportunities for the disenfranchised.

Nevertheless, in 1st Peter chapter 1, the apostle speaks of another hope. Hope found not in earthly possessions but rather found in a belief that one day this world as we know it will come to an end. We hope for a better life in a new world, that we will be resurrected to meet Christ upon his return, to live for eternity in bodies made new.

Let’s read more of that hope found in Peter’s writings starting in verse 3 of 1st Peter 1:

‘All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.’

’So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.’

’You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.’

10 ’This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward. 12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.’

13 ’So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world.’

In 2 Peter 1: 16, Peter assures us that ‘we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (NLT).

The hymn writer, Edward Mote wrote the words,

‘My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.’

What do you hope for today? Who do you place your hope in? Things may never be perfect here on earth. Our ultimate hope must be in God, to see Him face to face, to be redeemed, purified, and sanctified. Plain and simple: to be saved in His kingdom, to be reunited with loved ones and friends who have passed on, and to know joy beyond what we could ever conceive. We can begin each day with hope, joy, and the knowledge that Jesus saves. He desires that we live with him forevermore.

There is nothing greater than knowing God loves us and cares for us. Three things will remain, faith, hope and love. And while the greatest of these is love, hope is in the conversation. Let’s keep it alive.

A Prayer for Today

Lord we place our hope and trust in You. Hope that one day we will see You. Strengthen our faith, our resolve, and our commitment to serving You, and those we meet. Forgive us where we have faltered. Thank you for your sacrifice on the cross. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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