I was talking to a friend the other day about a situation in my work when I heard myself say, “I guess I hoped by now, there would have been a break-through, or at least that I would see change.”
The next day, my sister was observing my “how does anyone ever have a good relationship?” funk, and finally said, “Well, don’t give up hope. . .”
I have hope on the brain. “Hope does not disappoint.” So, why do I feel disappointed? When I feel like my hopes let me down, I must have misdirected my hope. Hope that isn’t God-ward isn’t hope at all. What I think of as hope is really just wishing; hope is confidently expecting what’s been promised and holding out for that. Hope is living as if God is faithful to His promises. Wishing is deciding what I think should happen and longing for my plan to unfold smoothly.
Baby names doodled on the margins of paper (Mary Eva? Mary Ava? Does Mary Ava sound too much like “Sarajevo?” Hmmm. . .) are about wishes. Notes written in the margins of my Bible are about hope. Longing to see a student excel in a subject is a wish; longing to see myself re-made to be more like Jesus as I struggle to teach patiently and lovingly is hope.
Hope isn’t about a chance that something will go my way. Hope is absolute assurance that God will work things out for His glory and that I will have eternal communion with Him. Hope does not disappoint, when my hope is in a Being who cannot lie, change, fail.
I’ve been catching myself wishing for things and then reminding myself not to put my hope in them. That’s not to say that I don’t want those things- I want my students to flourish, I want friendships to blossom, I want children to nurture someday- but I realize that I can’t make those things happen. Even if they did, they wouldn’t be ultimately satisfying. I have to give myself blunt lectures. Apparently, I’m not alone in this; the Psalmist had this to say to himself:
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God. (Psalm 43:11)