Against hope…

The truth is, I have trouble with hope. I know it is important, incredibly important. The Bible tells me that when all else is gone… Faith, Hope, and Love will remain. I like Faith and Love. These are nice strong verbs. They require action. Hope is different. It is more passive and vulnerable. It feels like a set up for disappointment.

When I’m honest, I realize I don’t encourage or protect hope. I actually guard my heart against it. I am afraid of hope, of reaching forward, of wanting what I don’t already have. Life has been a hard task master and I am not a sucker for punishment. I don’t want to want, to need, to yearn, to wait… I don’t want to hope for something that may not be fulfilled. So, I try to avoid hope.

But, sometimes hope sneaks up on me…

When the sale of our house fell through two weeks before the closing and our dream was in danger. I realized that my hope was set on a certain future. I wanted what I wanted, a way forward and clear path to the outcome I had prayed for. I hoped that the house would be ours and any other outcome would be devastating. There in the midst of the fear and anxiety, hope lingered. It helped us find a way forward. It allowed us to face down fear and discouragement, it gave clarity to the process. Hope felt like a candle in the dark as we moved toward an uncertain future.

When I applied to the three of the top graduate schools in the country, I risked hope. I went through the application process, talked to admissions folks, and dared to ask for entry. Hope gave me confidence and boldness to knock on doors that seemed far beyond my reach. When I received the rejection notices, hope lingered in the heartbreak. I tried, it didn’t happen. It was okay. Hope shined light on new doors of opportunity, and moved me forward in another direction.

When a relationship seemed lost to time and neglect, hope lingered. It whispered words of rest and peace. Long time friendships change and life moves on. Hope reminded me of good times, of shared experiences, of lasting impact. Our lives came together and then apart. Hope held out the possibility of our lives connecting again. When the email came with an invitation for lunch, hope lingered and friendship was restored.

If I let it, hope will tend to my heart. It brings perspective, courage, and anticipation. I am trying to give hope a chance, to learn from it and to let it grow. It is scary and I don’t always like it… but I think it’s here to help me, not to hurt me. So, I am at least willing to begin a conversation.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.  I Corinthians 13:13


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