An Anchor for the Soul (By: Dan Gully)

You may not recognize the name Septimus Winner. I didn’t until I started digging around for a few ideas to help with this little piece on hope. I will recognize the name from now on. Winner was a 19th century songwriter (1827-1902), and in 1868 he published words to what turned out to be a winning song. A song that continues to comfort and encourage and strengthen the hearts of millions of believers in Christ after more than 140 years. The song is the beautiful “Whispering Hope,” and it is a magnificent tribute to and reminder of the power of hope in the life of a hurting Christian. Part of the first verse reminds us: “Wait till the darkness is over, Wait till the tempest is done, Hope for the sunshine tomorrow, After the shower is gone.” The song is truly a “gospel” song. It encourages us with the message that sunshine follows the storm, midnight begins a countdown to dawn, joy follows suffering, and life follows death. The third verse is especially powerful — “Hope, as an anchor so steadfast, Rends the dark veil for the soul. Whither the Master has entered, Robbing the grave of its goal; Come then, O come, glad fruition, Come to my sad, weary heart; Come, O Thou blest hope of glory, Never, O never depart.” This verse has direct reference to one of the most hope-filled passages in one of the most hope-filled books in the Bible. The passage is Hebrews 6:19-20 which says concerning the hope we have in Jesus (for forgiveness of sins and eternal life): “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus… ”

I wish we had space to discuss the context of these verses, but we don’t. The concern in this article is to ask, “Is there any hope?” Pain, sorrow, grief, and death sooner or later barge into our lives. If heartbreak and disappointment soak into our souls long enough, hope can begin to seep out. What darkness and tempest is assailing you? What cloud obscures the sun that recently shone in your sky? What do you do when the storms of life beat into your body or mind or soul, or of someone you love, tossing your heart to and fro and blowing your life off course ? Ben Patterson (in The Grand Essentials) told about a submarine rammed by a ship off the coast of Massachusetts years ago. It sank immediately. The entire crew was trapped in a prison house of death, waiting for the inevitable end to come. No effort was spared to rescue the crew, but in the end all failed. Near the end of the ordeal, a deep-sea diver, seeking desperately to find a way for the crew’s rescue, heard a tapping on the steel hull of the sunken sub. Placing his helmet against the side of the vessel, he recognized what he was hearing was Morse Code. From within that death chamber a simple but desperate question was tapped out repeatedly: “Is. . . .there. . any. . .hope?” The Gospel answer is, “Yes! There is hope!” Because He died and rose again Jesus Christ has robbed the grave of its goal! He gives us “a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3)! He is in Heaven, and those anchored to Him always have a sure and steadfast hope, even in life’s severest storms. Anchor yourself to Jesus!

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ

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