Worldly Hopelessness: Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street
Many of us remember the haunting saxophone which made Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street such a hit (not to forget the class guitar riff at the end!). The mood of the saxophone reflected the sadness of the words which were about the failed promises of Big City Life:
Windin' your way down on Baker Street....
This city desert makes you feel so cold.
It's got so many people but it's got no soul
And it's taking you so long
To find out you were wrong
When you thought it had everything
He senses that life is passing him by but still hopes his day will come:
Another year and then you'll be happy
Just one more year and then you'll be happy
He's got this dream about buyin' some land
He's gonna give up the booze and the one night stands
And then he'll settle down there's a quiet little town
And forget about everything
But this hope is never fulfilled:
But you know he'll always keep movin'
You know he's never gonna stop movin
Cus he's rollin'
He's the rollin' stone
We live in a world of despair.
Philosophically, despair is the natural outcome of evolutionary theory, the West's dominant "where we came from" creation myth: if we are here only by the brutal outcome of a battle for survival and the pitiless laws of a purposeless universe, hope can be nothing more than an illusion, a false-crutch for the weak-minded. Experientially, this despair comes from the multitude of seemingly intractable problems which beset the world, ranging from global-warming to terrorism to fiscal uncertainty.
Hope Springs Eternal
Oddly (that is oddly, only to the materialist) we pine for hope, which, according to Alexander Pope, "springs eternal in the human breast." We could stop here and ask where hope comes from, if nature is so hopeless, but instead we note the sad truth that human yearning for hope, when left to itself, always, always and always finds itself shipwrecked on perilous rocks. We hope in all the wrong things!
We put our hope in our brains, brawn, money, family, uprightness, kings, princes and presidents. Isn't that how Obama got to power? Men and women looking for hope, voted for him. The ticket of hope. The Audacity of Hope.
The trouble is that all of these human hopes fail. And often they fail "big time".
Surrounded by treacherous enemies, king David said to God, "My hope is in You" (Psalm 25:21). He meant that he hoped in the power of God to rescue him. He hoped in the ability of God to bring good out of evil. He hoped in the purposes of God though he couldn't see them. He hoped in the everlasting love and faithfulness of God. Not in himself or in his money, but in God.
We have even more hope than David, for the resurrection of Jesus from the dead has demonstrated historically, once for all, that tragedy doesn't have the last word, injustice is not the end of the story. God's good and great purposes will always triumph.
David, inspired by the Spirit, said what every believer should be able to say as the New Year dawns: "No-one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame." (Psalm 25:2) Hope burns as brightly as the promises of God.