I know. The first word of the title seems like it should be anecdotal. Because then it would be stories of hope. And we all love stories which give us encouragement and perspective. We want to hear things that will distract us for a moment from our dreary story by offering a smiling story, an inspiring story.
But sometimes I mean what I say. And what I want to say is that I need antidotal hope. an injection which will allow me to walk through my days and conversations without being infected by despair.
One source of antidotal hope is stories, but not the warm and fuzzy kind. The warm and fuzzy stories we read in links or watch at the end of the news increase the contrast between what we wish was true and what we see when we live our lives. Instead, Paul suggests, stories of perseverance by normal people engaged in the same struggle we are engaged in can give us hope.
He writes, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”
Endurance characterizes people engaged in worthwhile goals like marathons and families and translating the Bible into other languages and their own lives. Endurance looks like a thousand decisions a day to continue.
Encouragement sounds like a voice that says, “My child who feels all alone and adrift, this is worthwhile because it shows love and you are worthy because you are loved.”
And Paul writes his words to a group of people living lives like Jesus, while located in the capital of the country that permitted Christ to die. In that time and ours, regular injections of story and community can keep hope alive.