Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
My husband often tells me I am the most hopeful person he knows. I’m often not sure if he’s complimenting me or teasing me.
When I fill out a contest form, he asks, “Why do you bother entering?” My answer: “Somebody has to win!”
When I drive toward the front parking spaces at the grocery store, he asks, “Why do you even try?” My answer: “Somebody has to vacate a prime spot.”
When I bless the checkout clerk, he asks, “Why do you do that?” My answer: “Somebody has to plant the seed.”
To me, a life without hope is headed for disaster. But a life without joyful hope is headed for death. I once heard John McCain, the former Navy pilot who spent years being tortured by the North Vietnamese as a prisoner of war, say that the reason other captives died in prison was because they had lost hope. McCain endured unimaginable abuse at the hands of his enemies, yet he is reported to have demonstrated great joy when he learned that Navy beat Army in football and Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. Even in the darkest of times, McCain had the ability not only to seek the light but also to revel when he found it.
I think we could all use a heavy dose of joyful hope right now.
Hope is the crack in that rigid wall we’ve self-constructed to protect ourselves from disappointment and despair. Between the presidential debates, the pandemic, the race riots, the California wildfires, and disparate educational scenarios across the country, there’s plenty of disappointment and despair to go around. We can either fall victim to the negative responses or make room for the Holy Spirit to root joy in our hearts for whatever is to come. Anti-apartheid and human rights advocate, Desmond Tutu, once said, “Hope is being able to see there is light despite all the darkness.”
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently (Romans 8:24-25).
We Americans have a hard time waiting for anything or trusting anyone but ourselves. We act as if we’ll live forever and are entitled to a carefree life. But God never promised us that. What he did say was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Hope means waiting in expectation for a certain thing to happen and trusting that God will provide whatever is necessary.
Last week I joined Hope*Writers, a community of writers dedicated to helping authors make progress as they learn to balance the art of writing with the business of publishing. The name fits me well. While I am still learning how to navigate this online community and its resources, I am hopeful that through this environment I will grow as a writer and, perhaps, get a book deal. Am I entitled to a publishing contract? No. But I am hopeful that I’ll get one. Each morning I bring my requests to God and wait in expectation (Psalm 5:3). This much I know: I will get a contract if God deems my story worthy of advancing his kingdom.
Several years ago, my creative sister-in-law made me a mosaic serving tray that I absolutely adore because it functions as a visual reminder of hope. Just as an anchor holds a boat secure in moving waters, Christ holds us steady in a sea of uncertainties. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure (Hebrews 6:19). When life seems to be spiraling out of control, I focus my eyes on God and his promises. He can be trusted.
It’s no secret that unhappiness and pessimism lead to anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, high blood pressure and heart disease. Yikes! Actor Christopher Reeve who was left quadriplegic after being thrown from a horse said, “Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” Since I have a choice, I choose to cultivate hope in my life. Not only will I be healthier for it, those I come in contact with will hopefully see God in me. So when they inquire, “What makes you so hopeful?” I can answer, “I’m glad you asked.” Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).
The Israelites wandered 40 years in the desert before entering the Promised Land. David was on the run from Saul for more than 20 years before assuming the throne of Israel. Nelson Mandela served 27 years in prison before apartheid was granted in South Africa. J.K. Rowling’s pitch for Harry Potter was turned down by twelve publishers before it went on to become the most successful book series of all time. And John McCain was a prisoner of war for five-and-a-half years before his release and a successful political career. In comparison, what’s a few months, or even a few years, of COVID?
There is light at the end of this dark tunnel. So keep straining forward, and never lose hope. Tomorrow could be the day you’ve been waiting for.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).
THE SONG THAT COMES TO MIND IS "Hope Now" by Addison Road.
Lyrics: “Everything rides on hope now. Everything rides on faith somehow.
When the world has broken me down, Your love sets me free.”