Hollow Optimism with Pessimistic Expectation (HOPE)

HOPE. It’s a waste. Fickle. Flimsy. At least that’s what I used to think. Hope wasn’t the rugged, mighty, power-releasing faith that I read about in the Gospels and the book of Acts. As I read through the gospels, Jesus never said much about hope. Faith yes, hope, no. For much of my life, (until last week to be honest), hope was synonymous with wishing.

“I hope my teen gets up on time”. I wish Peter would take school seriously.
“I hope my husband comes home in a good mood!” I wish his boss wasn’t so critical.

Often I used this four-letter word, hope, to mask my sincere frustration and pessimism. My version of hope, aka wishing, was full of sincerity, but it was baseless at its core. Unsubstantiated. Hollow optimism. I mean, how many candles did I blow out as a child and none of my wishes came true? “Hope” left me feeling sad inside after I blew out each candle.

Jen Miskov, whom I consider one of my writing mentors, brought the topic of hope to a group of workshop alumni last week during our online meet-up. She encouraged us to activate our skills by writing about hope. Hope? C’mon, Jen! Let’s do something meaty like the promises of God, or speaking to our mountains, living on fire for God or some other cool Biblical concept laden with Christianese! But no. She said one word: hope. “Write about hope”. Why?

“Many people need it right now”.

As a mom, I “hope” for a lot of things. The audio on the laptop to work during my kids’ Zoom classes. My newly sprouted veggies not to freeze to death at night, or more importantly, a good night’s sleep. But these are desires that don’t propel me to cry out to God in frantic desperation…well, the desire for solid sleep does, but if the audio acts up or a squash sprig gets freezer burn (one did!) then I troubleshoot or plant a new seed. As I studied about hope, I realized that I had the wrong word in my head. I used the word “hope” when I should have used the word want. I want the audio to work, but if it doesn’t it isn’t the end of the world. Wants are sincere, but often shallow. Hope is quite substantial.

  1. The God of hope. Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Wow, ok. Hope has to be important if it’s a descriptor for our Most High God. And we, as believers are supposed to abound in hope?! Abound = overflow, flourish, be alive with. God is serious about this. He sends His Spirit to endow us or infuse us with hope.

  1. What is hope? Time to go to BlueLetterBible.org. Interesting. Hope isn’t like wishing at all. It seems as meaty as faith. The words confidence and assurance catch my eye. The idea of patient expecting is noteworthy. While wishing implies that we don’t know whether or not something we want will happen, hoping means that we know something WILL happen, although we may not know when. When we say, “I have hope”, we are saying, “I believe”!
  2. Being hopeful is impressive. While I can’t say that I have hope that my kids will have a 24 hour period with delightful behavior, I can say that I have hope that God will guide me how to parent them well through their childishness. I know without a shadow of a doubt that God is with me. That His Spirit gives me hints when a bad mood is occurring because they miss their friends. I expect God to parent me as I raise the children He has asked me to disciple. (I like disciple better than train. The latter word is too mechanical for me. Just a personal thing 🙂 )

Romans 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (KJV)

In other words, having pleasurable anticipation of good is not a shameful or disgraceful thing, BECAUSE the Holy Spirit pours God’s love into our hearts. I get the picture of a waterfall of love cascading down to our hearts. So what exactly is God’s love? It’s Him! His essence. He is beneficent. Enduring. Assured. Sacrificial. Confident in the unseen. Sustaining. Forgiving. These attributes have been poured into the hearts of the redeemed. So because we have God’s love in our hearts, hope is normal! Anticipating good is natural!

In God, we can have confidence in our future good. Don’t let the pessimists and the cynics get you down. Hope in God! Overflow, be alive with the assurance of the future good He desires for you. Yes, Jesus suffered and died, but remember the 3rd day!

One more thing: faith is the substance of things hoped for. This used to be a tough verse for me to understand. If you are like me, you still have to chew on it a lot. Maybe this explanation will help. You are confident that your financial situation will get better, that the season of suffering will end, or that God will guide you in this journey of life. These things that you are confident about (hope) have actual substance or essence in the spiritual/unseen realm. You can’t see these things in front of you, because they occupy a realm that we cannot see with our eyes. Whoaaa. This spiritual/unseen “stuff” consists of something Jesus called faith. I think faith is somewhat like the invisible energy that brings something from God’s realm into ours. Anyway, we have to be patient, but this stuff will materialize.

Meanwhile, our God of hope wants you to abound in hope!

Yes there is evil around, but the God of hope!
Yes, days are tough right now, but the God of hope…!

I invite you to check out my new release, Cultivating the Souls of Parents.
Paperbook and e-book available on Amazon.com and BN.com

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