Hope is a funny thing. When I was a kid, I remember a guy telling me that he never set his goals to high so he couldn’t be all that disappointed. His theory was simple; “don’t get your hopes too high and you can’t fall too far down.” I remember thinking that was terrible. Recently, my wife pointed out to me that I’ve fallen into the very trap.
Life can do that to you can’t it? Fail a couple of times, get your ass kicked a few times and suddenly my friends view doesn’t seem all that far fetched does it? But the word hope is mentioned over 160 in 4 major English translations of the Bible (NIV=174, TNIV=180, NASB=164, HSB=171). Now, there are those who would have you believe that our only hope should be in Jesus for heaven. I agree our hope is in Christ, but is it only for heaven? Is that the extent of our hope? I think God wants us to hope for more.
Think about it. When Peter tells us to be prepared to give an answer for the hope that lies in us (see I Peter 3:15) is he really just telling us that we are to be hopeful for heaven and not really hope for all that much here on earth? Surely, he’s offering us more than the right to be a jerk with little credentials and a lot of self-links using a blog to attack other people! Does God want us to dream? Does God care if we dream?
Now, today I heard someone say in regards to relationships that expectations are just premeditated resentments. I asked her if she hoped. Her brutally honest and painful answer was an emphatic, “Nope. Not if I can help it.”
I think we have surgically removed hope from our lexicon. Perhaps, we’ve done this because of a faulty theology that has relegated salvation to being merely something of where we are going. In some sense it would be easy to just blame our faulty theology (and there is plenty to go around) but I think it’s deeper than that.
Think about the promise found in John 10. Jesus came that we might have life while having life. Think about the scandalous passage where Jesus compares God’s relationship with us to that of a father wanting to give us good gifts! There is nothing more scandalous than someone saying that God wants to give us good gifts. Tasteless post cards are produced. “Will it preach?” is plastered over pictures of people living around the world in abject poverty. All of which misses the point. God told us He loves us.
I wonder if hoping is Holy. I wonder if hoping doesn’t connect us to God in a way that can’t be denied by doubters. Is our hope “level” equal to the level of trust we have in God’s goodness? Is our willingness to hope directly proportional to our willingness to trust God? I know two men, both are in the same condition financially, but the one has stopped hoping while the other continues. One seems to have much more faith in God than the other.
But hoping is messy. Hoping is potentially painful. Hoping is a road lined with risks and potentially crushing pitfalls. When we hope, we inherently take a risk that we’ll be disappointed.
Maybe when we fail to hope, we do something even more dangerous. Maybe by failing to hope we do something that is actually insidious that eats away at our soul. Maybe by refusing to hope we actually call God a liar. When we refuse to hope we might actually be saying by our actions that we’re writing God off.
I’m not talking about hoping for a new truck or a new car, but what about hoping for a new job, or a baby, or a marriage? Or what about healing? Can we hope for a vacation? Can we hope for affluence? Can we hope for that dream_____________? I think that not only can we, but we must.
Hoping may be the greatest way we can say that we believe there is a God and that He is good. In a world, of snarky religious wannabe leaders and crushed dreams that are infected by the stain of sin that bleeds into life like a tea bag bleeds into hot water we have to draw a line in the sand and say,
Be hopeful today. When people ask why, be prepared to tell them it’s because you know a Jewish carpenter.