Hope. Something about the very word stirs our hearts on a primeval level. The drive to believe the way is never utterly dark is woven into the very fabric of our souls. It is the theme of fairy tales, superheroes, and legends. It is the flicker of magic in our childish games.
“Blow out your candles and make a wish….”
“Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. Wish I may and wish I might. Grant this wish I wish tonight..”
It is the ingredient in the spin that keeps health, wealth and prosperity preachers rich and the desperate coming back for more against all odds. It prompts the gambler to roll the dice just one more time. Hope draws the mother back to the window took look for her lost child although the years have borne testimony that he will not be coming home.
I remember a time when I lost hope. Even now, I can hardly bare to think of the despair that followed. It was such a sorrowful, barren place when my heart echoed the Psalmist cry as he said, “The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.” Psalm 18:4. Then, as I cried out to God something unexpected rose from the gloom. It was a new hope, profoundly different from the others. It was rock solid, unshakable and built on the foundation of the very nature of God.
I had learned a few things about God that I knew to be true. God is faithful. He is good and mighty. He loves me personally, intimately, and extravagantly. I never could have discovered this new hope if I had not first fully embraced these truths because it is based on trust.
I remember standing before a group of women to tell them about this hope. It was a messy affair. Tears pouring. Heart breaking. My hands unclenching to release my most desperate longings so that I might embrace a greater hope. I stood before them and in essence said this:
“I no longer know if my daughters will ever come home. For so long I tried to force my logic on the Maker of All Things. I thought, ‘Surely He will bring them home to me. It makes no sense for there to be any other ending to this journey.’ Now, I am not so sure anymore. I have discovered that His ways are so much higher than my ways and His thoughts more lofty than my own finite reasoning. Perhaps, He only gave them to me to love for a little while….but what I have discovered is this: He can keep me no matter what. If He chooses to say ‘no’ to my pleas, He is able and faithful to mend my broken heart.”
I will tell you that not every woman in that room could receive what I said. We all want to believe God will give us what we desire, don’t we? At times, we even try to manipulate the Almighty into doing our bidding as if He, the Sustainer of All, were some cosmic vending machine or a genie in a lamp.
“God, forgive us for making You too small in our eyes…”
Oh, He loves to give good gifts to His children and there are so many, many times he grants our requests but sometimes for the greater glory or the deepening of our faith he says, “No, my child.” or “Wait awhile…” It is in those moments we have the opportunity to find a joy that is deep, pure, and strong, a joy that finds its source in the hope that even if our most desperate longings are denied, He is able and faithful to hold us together.
There, in the sure hope of the love of Christ is true transcendence. It is the victory that comes from believing that no matter our circumstances, it is not the end.
…And in that place is incredible joy.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13