Hope: (noun) the feeling that what is wanted can be had.
I confess, I’m not feeling this right now. So much of what I wanted this year I haven’t got and what I’ve gotten is often not what I wanted. There have been so many disappointments–some little, some big–and under their accumulated weight, hope has faded to the faintest glow. I feel like I’m staring at the western hills after sunset, seeing the shadowy outline of the horizon moments before it disappears into darkness completely. “We had hoped”…but not for this. The phrase from Romans 5:5 (NIV) comes to mind: “And hope does not disappoint us…” I wonder how this can be true.
“We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! (Romans 5:3-5, MSG).
Hope: (verb) to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.
Maybe part of the problem is my expectations. In the midst of life’s uncertainty, what is reasonable for me to look forward to?
“When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do” (Romans 4:18, MSG).
Knowing that God is my shepherd, I can have reasonable confidence that He will guide and provide for us. Experiencing God’s complete and unconditional love for me prompts me to look forward to what God will do today in the midst of the challenges and heartaches I currently have.
The exercise I have to practice in this season is shifting my focus from what I don’t have to what God is generously pouring into my life. God’s gifts are often surprising, and I can’t predict exactly how He will work in my life, but if I keep living in “alert expectancy such as this”, then I won’t miss it. My hope is that “God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful” (Romans 8:28, VOICE) and I will not be disappointed in that.