Spring! Here in the northeast, spring has finally sprung! Temperatures have risen into the 70s. The sun has reintroduced itself, thawing the weary denizens of winter’s harsh sting. Tiny buds can be seen on some trees and bushes, barely perceptible, but nevertheless very encouraging. A symphony of bird songs fill the early morning hours in a glorious counterpoint of unrelated melodies. Cardinals, blue jays, robins, sparrows, woodpeckers, and the rest, all sing their triumphant songs of perseverance and their joyous songs of hope. Spring brings the fulfillment of so many desires and so much anticipation. And – the baseball season begins.
Baseball – the national past time. I don’t know what it is about this game that captures the imagination of so many. Perhaps it’s just a nostalgic, backward glance. A longing for a time when life was slower paced, simpler. Perhaps it’s just a rite of passage – a loud bugle blast announcing to all that yet another spring is here and that summer is on the horizon.
LOOK! THERE IT IS – OFF IN THE DISTANCE. I CAN SEE IT COMING
But I suspect there is something else. I support a team that my father and mother supported, and that my grandparents supported, and that my wife and sons now support. Spring, baseball, awaiting summer. Family ties. And, perhaps most importantly, hope.
Yes. Spring brings baseball, and baseball always brings hope. My team will do better this year. We are going to win it all. Nobody can stop us this year. Every fan is filled with anticipation and hope at the start of a new season. Even Chicago Cubs fans feel it – overlooking the fact that they haven’t won since 1908!
That’s the strange thing about spring – “Hope springs eternal.” This phrase, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast,” is extracted from An Essay on Man penned by the English poet, Alexander Pope, in 1734. It is widely quoted, and has become a figure of speech, a modern day proverb, even a cliché. It is used to offer encouragement, either to another or to oneself, that troublesome circumstances will change. It is an encouragement that, even though things are bad and have been for a long time, tomorrow will be a better day. The sun will rise and cut through the gloomy gray winter sky. The birds will sing. The temperatures will rise. The fauna will come to life. Spring will … well, spring! As long as I have breath, I can hope for a better tomorrow.
“Hope springs eternal in the human breast.” As it stands alone, apart from the three other lines in the stanza, its meaning is not clear. In the context of the stanza, the meaning comes into focus, and it is less hopeful.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always to be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
The poet speaks of a man who is never blessed, whose soul is uneasy, confined in this life, longing for the life to come. Longing for relief. Longing for deliverance. Longing for provision. He continually waits for the blessing, yet it never comes. Actually, it is a discouraging message. One that tells of a hope that cannot be fulfilled in this life, but only in the life to come.
Poor Alexander Pope. I suspect he was a religious man with a deep and devout respect for God’s will and purpose. It seems he meditated on this, and devoted much intellectual rigor to it. He knew of God’s majesty and had a healthy fear His power, but he didn’t feel His love.
Hope does spring eternal in the human breast, in the human heart, when that heart is focused on the goodness of God.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) There’s that word again. Hope. Offered by God for you. Receive it. It is a gift. Let it bring a feeling of peace and comfort to you, even in troubling times. God is faithful. He will not forget you. He will not forsake you. Yes, hope does spring eternal in the human breast. God, Himself, has promised.
And, who knows? Maybe your team will win the World Series this year. Good luck!
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7
-Blog post written by Daniel Carillo