This post was first shared as issue 23 of These Sacred Words
“Don’t jinx it,” I say to myself, “Don’t get your hopes up. Don’t think about it too much. Don’t plan on it happening because then it inevitably won’t happen.”
I find that when it comes to hope, my hopes range wildly between incredibly naively high to buried so low that they’re practically non-existent.
I have such a hard time finding an appropriate balance of hoping.
In journeying through infertility, every month my hopes have tentatively risen before being dashed again and again.
In our previous seasons of depression and anxiety, I have hoped for healing, but the fact remains that our bodies and minds are broken.
I hope for my relationships and marriage to thrive, but no matter how hard I try there is room for misunderstanding and conflict.
I hope for complete victory over my sin, but again and again my flesh fails me.
On any given day, I find myself hoping in so many things, holding expectations of what I want to see happen. And, inevitably, when these things don’t come to pass I find myself disappointed, sometimes to the point of despair.
So what is the solution? How do I hope for good things in my life and in my relationships, while not depending on those things for my joy?
How are we, as Christians, to hope?
Because the reality is that our lives are broken. Our relationships are messy. Sometimes we pray really really hard for good, God-glorifying things and are met with a “no” again and again and again.
I’ve experienced the roller coaster of emotion that comes with inappropriately-placed hopes. I’ve felt the despair when things I hope for don’t come to pass. I’ve wrestled through the deep frustration and the doubt that comes when God’s “no” doesn’t align with what I had hoped.
It can be so easy, when your hopes have been continuously dashed, to think that they are being dashed because God is distant or uncaring or withholding some good from you. And while I’d be lying if I said that hadn’t often been the case for me, I have more consistently found that the opposite is true.
God is always kind, always good, and always faithful to work in our lives for our eternal good and his eternal glory. In him is the only surety we have of hoping and not being disappointed.
In him is a hope that does not disappoint (Romans 5:3-5). In him is a hope that is not in this world, but in the grace that is offered through Christ and will be fully revealed at his return (1 Peter 1:13). Scripture tells us that it is Christ in us that is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27), and in Ephesians 1:18 Paul reminds us that the hope we have been called to is the riches of our glorious inheritance in Christ.
We can have hope because we serve a God who is faithful and good – and not ‘good’ in the sense that he will fulfill every single one of our hopes, but rather ‘good’ in the sense that he will use all things to work to refine us, to draw us close, and to make us more into his image.
So you see, even if the things we hope for in this world never come to pass, if our hope is in the risen Christ, we will never ever ever have reason to despair.