“Hope” is a weird word. I’ve always felt like it’s used a lot, but it’s kind of fluffy and fuzzy, often without substance, like pink cotton candy. We’re drawn to it cuz it’s pretty, like a wish, but I think maybe we don’t really understand it in a way that’s helpful in our “with God” life.
We mistakenly think that hope is positive thinking, or the tingly good feels, or confidence that things are going to turn out the way we want them to.
John started preaching a series on hope a couple weeks ago. It’s caused me to reflect a lot about this word. I think where we get off track is in the object of our hope. I know so many people who are longing, wishing, hoping for something deeply important to them – healing from cancer, a baby, reconciliation in a relationship, marriage, a job…
And that’s good and natural to ask God for what we hope for. Jesus says “Come to me…” and “What do you want me to do for you?” and “Pour out your hearts…”
But when I put my hope in my specific picture of a future, that’s where I get in trouble. I’m trusting in circumstances and feelings and myself more than putting hope in my God. If I cling to my specific picture of hope I make an idol out of it instead of offering it with open hands to God who knows better than I, and who can, even in this broken world, bring good that I can’t imagine out of despair. It may not be the good that I conjured up, or the perfection I would experience in an unbroken world, but like this quote says:
“Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.” Rumi
We bring our scribbly picture to God and, like a toddler who thinks they’re Picasso, demand that He frame it and declare it perfect as is. “THIS IS OUR ONE AND ONLY HOPE!” we say. “We will DIE without this hope fulfilled!”
But I think God patiently waits for us to settle down and hand over our picture for Him to paint in and around and create something that may look totally different. But better in a way.
That doesn’t mean that giving up our picture is without pain and grief.
We see folks in Scripture struggle with this constantly. Abraham, Moses, Joseph – people who had to let go of controlling the way they wanted their picture to look. They learned to put their hope in a Person rather than a product.
Job 13:5 Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.
Isaiah 40:31 But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength…
Psalm 146:3,5-6 Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save…Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, an everything in them – He remains faithful forever.
Sometimes the picture changes because we are victims to the hurtful choices of others. Sometimes because of our own choices, and sometimes because we just live in a world where we will always experience the lingering effects of the Fall. Our picture of a hoped-for future may change, but God does not.
For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken. Ps. 62:5,6
What has your experience with hope been?