During January, our theme at CityLife is Faith, Hope and Love. This weekend our teaching team spoke about hope. Our Associate Pastor, Paul Molyneux, began his message by referring to a well-known painting by George Frederick Watts RA (1817-1904), entitled "Hope."
Here is a description of the background of this painting from the book "Famous Paintings" printed in 1913 ...
"This is one of the earliest of the great morality pictures by which Watts earned his fame. Describing these, he said, 'All my pictures in the Tate Gallery are symbolical and for all time. Their symbolism is, however, more suggestive than worked out in detail.' He goes on: 'I want to make people think. My intention has not been so much to paint pictures that will charm the eye as to suggest great thoughts that will appeal to the imagination and the heart, and kindle all that is best and noblest in humanity.'
'Hope' illustrates the power of these pictures to make peole think. The blinded figure, seated on the sphere with her broken lyre, is bending her ear to catch what music she may from the last remaining string. She cannot see the star shining above her; one by one the sweet notes of music have been taken from her, but still she sits, bowed but not broken, plucking with tender fingers whatever melody she may from the last string of those that gave her the full harmonies of beauty. She has no vision either of the star above or of the world of darkness and gloom below. Her attitude of dejection almost rejects the conventional idea that there is happiness to be found when everything seems lost, but the picture suggests the larger hope of the world that there is peace and light above the turmoil and sorrow of the earth.
Watts was something more than a painter. He painted for no gain save the reward of achievement when he felt he had a message to deliver through his pictures. To his purposes he deliberately sacrificed his natural dexterity and technique, holding that the artist should be lost in his picture. Nevertheless, the power of colour which is exhibited in 'Hope' is one of the most marked qualities of his work. The whole is a delicate harmony in blues and greens, and is suggestive of the Italian influence which so strongly affected the painter."
Ultimately, hope is only as strong as the object or person we place our hope upon. Thankfully, as followers of Christ, we can anchor our hope in the certainty of God's presence, God's purpose, and God's promises.
Whatever adversity or challenge you may be facing today, I join with the apostle Paul in praying for you ...
"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." [Rom.15:13. NLT]