"What breath is to the physical body, hope is to the human spirit. Hope is what consoles us. It is the fuel that energizes us, gets us up in the morning and propels us through the day," writes John R. Claypool, an Episcopal priest and popular preacher, speaker, and retreat leader. He has written ten books and teaches at Mercer University in Atlanta. The author concurs with Bishop William Frey who has described hope as the "Cinderella sister" of Saint Paul's famous trilogy of virtues in I Corinthians 13. Much has been written about faith and love but less about this unheralded faculty. Claypool's favorite definition is from Father William Inge: "Hope sees that which is possible, but is not yet."
From his study of Scripture, Claypool posits humility and revelation as authentic avenues to hopefulness. The term itself is linked to help: "There are still pockets of culture, such as in the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky, where the words are used interchangeably. For example, when people from this area ask,' Can you hope me out?' they are really reaching out for help. We need to reach out to God in the same way." The Holy One's care for us can be appreciated through miracles, through partnership with us, and through the gift of endurance. The author sees these as three keys on God's keyboard of helpfulness.
In chapters on forgiveness and the life to come, Claypool delineates hope as a crucial element of Christian faith. It is a resource used "to break the deadly spell of pessimism and despair," and it is a promise of everlasting love. The most positive contribution here is the author's reminder that we "see the future as a friend, not as a foe."