The Dangerous Pursuit of Hope
“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—
Last year was one of the hardest years I have ever experienced. I achingly crawled through the year. Everything became hard—facing the day was hard, serving the Lord was hard, believing God was hard.
I felt as if I was being forced into a corner where my past hurts, my daily physical pain, and my fragile emotional state were coming to a head. It was relentless. I remember saying to God at one point, “Can you please stop? I need to come up for air.”
But it didn’t stop. Life kept moving, dragging me with it—through the mire of my past and through the seeming hopelessness of my present.
Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I pray and ask God what one word he wants me to focus on for the whole year.
I watched the clock strike twelve and I sighed with relief, grateful to be closing the door on such a miserable year. I prayed for a new word, uncertain if I would want to hear what he had to say…
I shook my head. “No,” I told the Lord, “I don’t want that word.” I reject that word. It holds too many risks. It feels shaky and uncertain. It feels doomed to fail.
Hope feels dangerous.
After months and months of being pummeled, how could I possibly be filled with “hope”? Hope had long evaporated, along with my confidence and trust in the Lord.
How could He ask me to hope? How dare He when He feels so far away?
Silence can feel so isolating. Not hearing or feeling the Lord is like watching the sun rise, but never being able to feel its warmth—you can see the rays shining on others and yet from where you sit, the earth appears covered in clouds, barren and unloving.
So, I wait. I wait in this stifling silence. And as I wait, I feel the pestering chant re-enter my mind “hope, hope, hope…” It is a faint whisper, a thought so slight that it could easily be pushed aside. Yet, it won’t be.
Hope, in all of its demanding expectation refuses to be silenced.
Hope lingers in the corners. It desperately clings to my prayers. It slumbers with me as I struggle for rest. It wakes with me, tired and ragged. It sticks in my throat and seeps forth from my tears.
It’s reckless like that—credulous and irreverent. Hope doesn’t care if you have given up. It disregards your lack of faith and does what it was created to do—despite you, in spite of you. It believes. It perseveres. It waits expectantly. With or without you.
Hope is dangerous.
It doesn’t need you to believe. It simply is. It is the “hope of glory.” Hope now and to come.
Hope pulsates with the promises of God.
And it is for that reason that I have kept my distance from hope. I have not allowed its audacity to woo me, because what if…
What if I hope, and it still hurts? What if I hope, and I still grieve? What if I hope, and tomorrow looks the same as yesterday? Then what?
Where will I go? Where will I turn?
I suppose to the only place I can turn—the author of my Hope.
To the One in whom my hope must be tied.
Because in my arms, left to my own devices, I feel as though hope would send me reeling—untethered and alone. But, in His care, hope can fulfill its true purpose:
To be the promises of God, those we have not yet received.
And dare I say, hope’s purpose is more than that—it is a reward . It is a gift flowing from God’s goodness to not leave us alone in the decay and pain of the world. It is vow, that if we plead for it—if we capture it and allow it to have its way—it will keep us and rescue us.
For it is written:
"...God, who cannot lie, we who are refugees from this dying world might have a powerful source of strength, and might grasp the hope that he holds out to us. This hope we hold as an utterly reliable anchor for our souls.”" -Titus 1:2
And so, I must.
I have no choice but to allow hope to have its way.
I must choose to surrender to hope’s purpose brought forth by a God who trains the ones he loves—not for punishment, but for our good. Not to shame us, but to prosper us. This is my discovery: His silence is not a scourge, but a call to abide in his promises.
When Jesus entered the garden, I wonder if he had any hope left. I believe He must have. He must have held a shimmering fleck of hope, however small, because it was that hope that reminded him not of what was, but what was to come.
Hope does not pull us up out of our hurts, or our circumstances, or our grief. Instead, hope is a fetter, binding us to our God, so that we may flourish instead of flee, receive instead of retreat. And remember.
…that the dangerous often resides in the glorious.
Have you ever struggled with hope? Pursuing it, holding it, feeling it? If so, what did you discover?