Bright Hopes!


So I’ve been doing some read­ing this win­ter and out of that has come a song. It’s been a while since I’ve writ­ten any­thing, so to me it comes as a breath of fresh air. Some of my read­ing has focused on two arti­cles in the win­ter issue of Image Mag­a­zine (Num­ber 67). Both of these arti­cles are based around the art­work of Georges Rouault.

Rouault is a French artist from around the turn of the cen­tury – 1871 – 1958. Shunned (or for­got­ten) by art crit­ics and the aca­d­e­mic world since the flat­ten­ing of the accept­able art world by Picasso and the two-dimen­sion­al­ity of Andy Warhol’s pop art move­ment, Rouault’s works are impos­si­ble to pho­tograph. This ren­ders them use­less or, at least, under-appre­ci­ated in the vir­tual-real­ity we live in today.

In addi­tion to his art being visu­ally dif­fi­cult for our times, his themes of find­ing hope among dark­ness flies in the face of exis­ten­tial­ism and mid-cen­tury nihilism. He presents the deep Chris­tian themes of hope, love and com­pas­sion using the sub­ject mat­ter of pros­ti­tutes and skid-row fam­i­lies. His faith led him to painterly med­i­ta­tions on those mar­gin­al­ized by soci­ety and, espe­cially, on their suf­fer­ing…

At Jacob’s Well, we’ve been focused on liv­ing life more mis­sion­ally. Rouault’s Mis­er­ere series, with its images of the veil of Veronica speaks strongly to that kind of life. In medi­ae­val leg­end, “Veron­ica is a woman who wiped Jesus’ face on the way to the cross. Her cloth mirac­u­lously took no the imprint of his face, and she her­self was mys­te­ri­ously trans­formed into an image of Christ (that is, into a “true image” – the tra­di­tional ety­mol­ogy of “Veron­ica”). Just as Christ took on our like­ness, Veron­ica (and poten­tially all of us) can take on his. So there is an invi­ta­tion implicit in these images: as Christ iden­ti­fied with the suf­fer­ing of the world, you, me, and all of us are called to go into the dark­ness…”

While I was in the midst of read­ing these arti­cles, I was also read­ing a book by Phillip Yancy called The Bible Jesus Read. This read­ing con­tained two quotes that finally trig­gered the song that fol­lows. They are both obser­va­tions of the Psalms and as we head into the sea­son of Lent are par­tic­u­larly pow­er­ful.

We may expe­ri­ence times of unusual close­ness, when prayers are answered in an obvi­ous way and God seems inti­mate and car­ing. We may also expe­ri­ence dark times, when God stays silent, when noth­ing works accord­ing to for­mula and all the Bible’s promises seem glar­ingly false. Fidelity involves learn­ing to trust that, out beyond the perime­ter of dark­ness, God still reigns and has not aban­doned us, no mat­ter how it may appear.

And a sec­ond quote:

Here is what Psalms can do for a per­son in dis­tress. In 1977, at the height of the Cold Way, Ana­toly Shcha­ran­sky, a bril­liant young math­e­mati­cian and chess player, was arrested by the KGB for his repeated attempts to immi­grate to Israel. He spent Thir­teen years inside the Soviet Gulag. From morn­ing to evening Shcha­ran­sky read and stud­ied all 150 psalms (in Hebrew). ‘What does this give me?’ he asked in a let­ter: ‘Grad­u­ally, my felling of great loss and sor­row changes to one of bright hopes.’”

So there you go…that’s how I got to this one —> Bright Hopes!


Bright Hopes! by mc (Feb 2011)

We will wor­ship You
In the  bright­est of our days
We will thank You for abun­dance

As we praise Your name
In the dark­est of our nights
Will you give us eyes to see You there 

You strengthen us though dark­ness hides
The warm­ing power of the sun
You are our hope  —  You never fade
Your pres­ence flows through­out our lives

We will wor­ship You
In the bright­est of our days
We will thank You for Your good­ness

As we praise Your name
In the dark­est of our nights
Will you help us see You hid­den there 

We will shout with joy
Even though we shake with fear
We will lift your name with singing

And when trou­bles come
As indeed they surely must
Will You give us pails to bail our boats

You shine through us as night­time tries
To quench the burn­ing of the sun
Your dawn erupts with nature’s sound
We stand with all creation’s song

If we’d but look   —  We’d surely see
The mark­ers which You woo us with
They’re ever there but we’re asleep
Oh Jesus will You wake us up?

This night seems long  —  This death seems black
You stand beyond the reach of both
Our earth­bound minds can’t com­pre­hend
And so they get the best of us

tell me – why is it so hard for us to
see You – even as we catch a glimpse it
slips thru –  just as we were gain­ing ground we
undo – all the ways You’re work­ing in our lives
yet You are always work­ing in our lives
why are we so seem­ingly sur­prised

That,    1 — You never give up on us
2 — You never walk out on us
3 — You never lose sight of us
4 – You never stop lov­ing us

You change our sor­rows to bright hopes
You change our mad­ness to bright hopes
You change our lonely to bright hopes
You change our bit­ter to bright hopes

You change our tank­ing You change our quit­ting
You change our faith­less You change our worry
You change our worth­less You change our hurry
You change our brit­tle You change our bro­ken

You change us! You change us! Bright Hopes!
You change us! You change us! Bright Hopes!

You are always work­ing in our lives
Help us see You work­ing in our lives

3 thoughts on “Bright Hopes!

  1. Was just look­ing up the lyrics for this. Didn’t real­ize it was one of your orig­i­nals (thought I heard it was by some­one else)!! Such a great song — it has been in my head for a few weeks. 🙂

  2. What a beau­ti­ful pic­ture of God’s power, grace and utmost suf­fi­ciency in our lives, every­day, all the time, in our dark­ness, in our striv­ing and in our joy.

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