Hope: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen; the feeling of wanting something to happen and thinking that it could happen; a feeling that something good will happen or be true.
Be careful where you place your hope.
This statement has been in my wallet on a post-it for the better part of a year. I wrote and placed it there after a conversation I had with a friend. Many months ago, my friend was sharing a struggle she was having with her almost adult child that required some shift in behavior and action on the child’s part. The shift was probably out of the realm of possibilities for this ‘almost adult’. Her comment was, “Well, we can always hope.”
Hope, defined generically, feels like white knuckle action to me. It feels like someone saying, “never give up, things always change, hope for the best, just keep trying.” None of these statements have ever brought me much relief or faith or motivation. Motivation represents the need to take action, make choices, chose a road, define a plan, or try another route. These things and this type of hope feel like something to be accomplished. It is problem-solving, aligning potential outcomes, and assessing different paths. It’s almost thinking that if we ‘hope’ hard enough there will be some change and we place that desired change on an inanimate object or a person with free will.
And then we pray. We pray for what we have decided on, for what we determined would be our best outcome, or for a specific change in a specific circumstance. Doesn’t that take God out of the equation?
My church just finished a series about mountains. It wasn’t about ‘moving’ mountains, it was about mountains. Everyone has ominous mountains in front of them, persistent situations that hurt our heart, circumstances that don’t change despite our best efforts and intentions, things that seem insurmountable. We stand at the bottom of that mountain, staring up and assessing our potential paths because we are looking at the mountain. What if we looked at God instead?
I believe that God can perform miracles, change lives, and move mountains. But, how does it affect our heart if the action of that miracle is where we place all our hope? It is hoping for a miracle to change our situation and focusing on what we think the miracle should be while putting our heart right in the middle of those expectations. We place our heart on a roller coaster that is life and it suffers the ups and downs, the starts and stops, and the anxious expectation. My pastor said the following, “The power to move the mountain is not in the faith, the power is in the object of the faith, which is God. We can attach our hope to the circumstances of our life and hope they work out or we can attach our hope to the person of Jesus.”
The hope of the bible is the confident expectation of what God has promised and its strength is in His faithfulness. Everything changes when we see the face of God. Our perspective changes and somehow the mountains aren’t so ominous. Over the last ten years, there are chunks of time where I lost myself, where my memories are of what happened in my life during those times. There are other chunks of time where my memory is focused on what I learned from God. During those times things happened, for sure, but in those times, I do not have a memory of being ‘taken down’. In the other chunks, I was definitely ‘taken down’. The variance is in my abiding.
“Jesus invites us to abide in His love. That means to dwell with all that I am in Him. It is an invitation to a total belonging, to full intimacy, to an unlimited being-with. The light of the Spirit reveals to us that love conquers all fears.”
Abiding, that’s the difference. Are we dwelling in God and His promise of belonging and intimacy or are we figuring out our mountains? I’ve heard often that things don’t go away until they have taught us what we need to learn. Maybe what we need to learn is that hope should always be placed in and focused on the person and relationship of Jesus. Then, maybe it doesn’t matter what happens with the mountain. Maybe we have learned where we belong, truly.
“Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose clear….We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” -Hebrews 6:17 & 19
Everything changes, except God and His desire for us. That’s where we place our heart and hope.
By His Grace