There are places in life where hope comes easy. There are places where our natural reaction is to see the future through the lens of hope. It’s hard to find a mother that looks into the eyes of her newly born child and doesn’t naturally see that child’s future through the lens of hope. Life is full of moments of easy hope. Hope is easily realized in the presence of joy. The day we graduate from college the possibilities are endless and hope seems to be held in a piece of paper congratulating us for our achievement. It’s clear the day our family moves into our first house. We look around to see no furniture, no pictures and no memories, but in the midst of what’s missing we can easily see the invisible substance of hope fill every room with the expectation of what our family gets to build together in this new place. Hope seemed to clothe me the day I gave my life to cherish my beautiful bride with everything I am until my last breathe. Hope is a close friend when we are watching our 3 year old son blow out the candles on his birthday cake. Among the laughter and the smiles hope for a bright future is thicker than the chocolate cake and sweeter than it’s sugar filled frosting. I could go on and on about the many times in our life carrying hope seems to be as easy as taking our next breathe. But then… then there are those times when we get the air knocked out of us and it’s all we can do to fight for our next breathe of air.
Where is hope when the child we gave birth to and sacrificed so much to raise decides he want’s to leave home and shut us out of his life. What then? What about the day we loose our job and all the security we thought we had to support our family feels like sand falling through our hands? There are moments where the hope that was so easy to rest in becomes something more like a vapor that we are trying to catch. We loose our house, the same one we filled with our hopes and it becomes the thief that holds those hopes hostage as we drive away seeing nothing but a reflection in the rear view mirror of broken dreams and failure. The day the doctor looks at us as we’re holding our 3 year old son and he says, “It’s cancerous and it’s terminal”. It seems as though hope runs and hides from us when the marriage that promised to be happily ever after turns into what feels like a nightmare that will never end. How does hope fit into our story when extraordinary pain, crushing hurt and disabling anger feel like the closest friends we have.
Where is hope when our joy turns into mourning? Where is hope when we need it the most?
Hope is like food to our soul. When our body experiences trauma it can be extremely difficult, even impossible to eat and digest food. In the midst of such a trauma food is one of the most important agents to bring healing to our body. If our body will not receive food than the doctor will give us the nutrients we need through a feeding tube. It’s that important! This food gives us the building blocks our body needs to begin the process of restoring our health and rebuilding what the trauma destroyed. Our hope relates to our soul in much the same way food relates to our body. In the midst of a life changing trauma to our soul (mind, will and emotions) we often loose the ability to receive the very nutrients we need to heal. When we are sick with the flue our body will actually take good healthy nourishment that we need to regain health and reject it, through it up. In the midst of a sick or wounded soul we reject hope even if our mind tries to believe it. It can feel something like this.
Nothing will to stop these thoughts from coming into my mind about how bad this situation is. I feel depressed because I can’t seem to see a end to this. There is nothing I can do. I feel so powerless. This keeps happening to me so I don’t see how it will ever change. I’ve struggled with this for so long that I will have to struggle with it for the rest of my life. Nothing good could ever come out of this. I’m so angry I will never forgive them for what they’ve done. I can’t change. I hate my life. I feel miserable. This will never end. The pain is just to unbearable. My heart hurts so bad I will never be okay again. It’s just not worth it… As we loose hope, more and more of our heart shuts down. Until we reach the blackest of black.
Hopelessness is the death bed of the soul. However the soul never dies, it just makes it’s home in the clutches of death. Hopelessness is the absence of all worth and the full manifestation of fear. Hopelessness is cancer to our minds, the rotting of our heart and starvation of our souls. Hopeless is the absence of freedom. Hopelessness in it’s rawest form is no more than an angry argument against ourselves that life is not worth living. My friend I have good news. Hopelessness is not the climax nor the aim of my writing but a distant black on a canvas that allows the brilliance of our colorful hope to be seen. Many of us have experienced not only the reclaiming of hope, but the healthy strengthening of everything we live for and the wholeness we have been created to experience. We have seen the dark depths of a life void of freedom and plagued with fear. I am one of these, at the age of 22 I didn’t believe I would live to be 25. I didn’t believe I would ever be healthy. I didn’t have enough worth to believe someone would want to marry me. I believed that all I could do was hurt people and destroy my own life. And I did… until something happened that changed everything…
I met hope. Hope is not a distant idea we are trying to find. Hope is not a happy thought that we beat our mind and heart into submission with. Hope is certainly not the best thoughts we can think up or selfish ambitions of having everything we want. Let me tell you what I’ve learned. Simple but profound. Hope is truth. Hope is when you know the truth about yourself and choose to believe it. Truth has a source. The source we draw our hope from will determine the strength of our will. The source of truth we choose to believe will determine the health of our emotions. The source of what we believe to be truth will determine how rich and vibrant our thoughts will be. This truth is the basis for a whole soul. Let me end with a declaration of who I believe this truth to be. Let me introduce you to my hope.
“God created you to be strengthened in hope so that you can move in faith to display the goodness of love in EVERY second of EVERY day.”
In Jesus we are not just carriers of hope, we are living expression of hope. Hope is our nature. Our most natural reaction is hope. We eat hope. We breathe hope. We sleep in hope. It is a treasonous lie that we can loose hope because He is living inside us. To answer the question I asked earlier. Where is hope when we most need it? Hope is the same place He has always been. Jesus is pursuing us with a burning passion to give us truth to thrive on in the midst of tragedy we don’t understand. It’s hope that gives freedom purpose. It’s hope that believes our future isn’t defined by our past. It is the feast of hope in a brighter future that feeds and heals us in the famine of our present tragedy. Hope is seeing every situation through the eyes of grace and the glory of redemption. Hope is what we are created for. Hope is a man. His name is Jesus.