Hope has become such a vague word. “I hope it doesn’t rain”, “I am hoping to go on holiday”. Sometimes these statements are pure guesswork and sometimes they simply indicate that we have not planned things out very well.
Hope is a powerful word though, with power of life and death, the ability to flatten or inspire. Especially when it is based on something solid.
We don’t need to look far in our society to find hopelessness (a deficiency of hope). Without turning this into a political debate have a think about the ways people have lost hope over the last few years. The banking collapse led us to lose hope in bankers and more generally led us to question what security we have in finance. The political scandals in the UK have caused us to lose all trust in politicians who seem to have lost their way. The recent tabloid scandals and phone hacking revelations have caused us to lose hope in the people providing us with our view onto the world. The recent public unrest and rioting has caused us to question the fabric of society and the impact of our consumerist outlook. All the while the tragic natural disasters that have filled our news channels in recent years remind us that we are not really in control.
What next? What can we put our hope in and when will it next let us down?
What has this hopeless brought except the common phrase: “No use getting your hopes up”. The bar has been lowered, our posibilities have been restricted. The risk to hope just seems too great.
Yet I feel compelled to tell you that I have hope. I have the sort of hope that brings freedom, restores confidence and empowers me to overcome hopelessness. That is not to say I always live with this hope on the tip of my tongue or let it shape my every move, but I have this hope within me. It does not shelter me from the harshness of life but instead provides a peace that changes my reaction to difficulties. It does not change the circumstances around me, only my response to them. Having said that however, when you carry an unshakable hope with you, it can’t help but impact the people around you.
This hope is not based on something flimsy or vague, it stands strong. When I let it, it changes my outlook on almost everything in my life. It is not wishful thinking or some sort of positive mindset to brush aside hardship with. My hope is in the living God. The creator of this world and all it complexities, the author of life, the restorer of hope, God of grace, full of love and as powerful today as he always has been. The impossibilities of life bow down before him and the possibilities of a single life are multiplied exponentially! I believe in a hope that sees cancer healed instantaneously, sight restored to the blind and sees pain vanish. Not as a matter of history but today.
My hope is also based on solid historical, intellectual foundations (maybe one for another blog entry) and rooted in real life experience. It fills me with excitement both in the here and now and for the future.
The real proof of hope, is how it changes the here and now. How does it alter the way I live now. If it doesn’t result in change then is it real hope? If I say I hope to go to a prestigious university and yet take no action towards that you would be right to question my hope. If I have hope that I will grow close to a friend and yet I do not trust them with secrets you would be right to say my hope was nothing but a nice idea. Real hope changes how we act towards others and our response in lifes varied circumstances.
Do you have unshakable hope? If you do, you need to speak it out and live it out. There is enough hopelessness around. There are a lot of people looking for something to believe in, a hope for their future. Encourage people, and you might just get to see a glimpse of their potential.
For you have been my hope, Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth.