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John William Waterhouse: Pandora - 1896Hope, like a gleaming taper’s light, adorns and cheers our way; and still, as darker grows the night, emits a brighter ray. -Goldsmith
English language has been blessed with the expression ‘Pandora’s box’ which is directly borrowed from the Greek myth of Pandora. The Pandora’s myth was made famous by Hesiod’s poem ‘Works and Days’. Hesiod was a Greek oral poet generally thought by scholars to have been active between 750 and 650 BC.
The myth has it that Pandora was the first woman on Earth endowed with beauty and many gifts. She was presented to Epimetheus, the representative of mankind, as a form of vengeance by Zeus when Prometheus his brother stole fire from heaven. Pandora was given a beautiful container which she was not to open under any circumstance.
Impelled by her curiosity given her by the gods, Pandora opened it, and all the evil contained therein escaped and spread over the earth. Evil had been leashed on Earth except for one gift left in the box, Elpis!
Elpis is the Greek word translated hope in many Greek text including The New Testament. There are forty-eight verses in the New Testament containing elpis, with but one reference translated as faith (Heb. 10:23), all others were translated as hope.
Ancient Greeks defined Elpis, in their mythology as the personification and spirit of hope (It was an extension of suffering not as good). It is in this background do I share my reflections on the words of a wise Hebrew King; “Hope put off makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
These words are part of King Solomon’s collections of wisdom in Proverbs, recorded in chapter thirteen verse twelve. In one breath the wise King shares the taunt as well as the freshness of hope. Holding such powers to make the heart sick and to give fulfilment as the tree of life will. Some writers paint these sides well; “Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torment of man.”  This is an idea expressed by Friedrich Nietzsche. Benjamin Franklin expresses a similar thought as “He that lives upon hope will die fasting”. These statements are profound statements about such pain as the idea of hope could engender. These line of thought brings us to see hope as an evil and a concept that cannot in anyway be a virtue and should therefore not be considered by any person.
Other writers, paints the refreshing nature of hope not only as beauty but as a need to fulfilling life. Helen Keller puts it this way, “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Napoleon Bonaparte expresses a much profound statement about leadership and hope. “A leader is a dealer in hope”. Helen and Napoleon shows a clear alternate path to Friedrich and Benjamin words, not only in words but also in the astounding examples of their lives.

I pause here to ask what then should be ones attitude towards optimism? How much of hope is too much or too little? And when may someone even consider hope as an option? In the broadest sense I share some thoughts below but I do not seek to answer these questions. I only write to inspire a thinking among reader to ask the right questions as it may pertain to hope.

  1. Hope always has a foundation. The foundation for hope is always the reason on which one may build the edifice of hope. Hope may be the spur of life but there is always a foundation on which one may or may not hope. Some foundations for hope may be, personal wealth or power, relations, family, authority of government or sometimes luck and chance. These foundations serves as the assumptions for the ‘hoping theory’. I hope and thus have learnt that of all the foundations there maybe to hope there is none stronger than the foundation of a personal relationship with God. Spirituality seeds optimism and Christianity should show the way because there is a profession of a Living God.

  2. The substance of Hope. This is the actual terms of what it is that one hopes for. The substance of hope is as important as the foundation for hope. Optimism does not eliminate reason, it broadens the scope for reason. Thinking in phases of possibilities will not cloud you with fantasies. One should always define what exactly it is that they hope for, proceeding to ask honest and objective questions to refine the content and context of what is hoped for is prudence. Hope built from the promises of God is a sure pursuit!

  3. Hope is not an end in itself. One does not hope and go to sleep. Hope must be pursued with faith and enthusiasm. Most people consider hoping as a destination instead of an inspiration for a journey.

Hope is not just an idea to think about but it is a needful pillar in understanding and living purpose on earth. The old and young, the strong and weak, the rich and poor have yet another thing in common, hope. Each sleep with no guarantees for the next morning yet have plans for it. Let us sing with old old saying, hope for the best but plan for the worst.
In conclusion, the Greek myth of Pandora ends with the moral (105): “Thus it is  not possible to escape the mind of Zeus”. Hope can only be true if God is, and the universality of hope is strong evidence of human knowledge that circumstance work beyond human input or output.

We hope in quest for an intervention only God does provide. May we all who reflect on such as hope is, find God as our only foundation, essence and cause to hope. And May He who is God crown our pursuit as the Apostle Paul told the church in Colossae:

“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” Colossian 1:27

Yaw Sompa

Author Yaw Sompa

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