I’ve been afraid to hope. I feel like my adult life has been full of so many overwhelming challenges, unexpected turns, and blows to my hopes that it has put me in a place where I am afraid to extend that fragile vine of light.
It’s not that I’ve been hope-less. There is a difference between being afraid to hope and having no hope.
Being hopeless looks like in-the-pit despair; feeling like there is no path forward; being at the end of yourself with no energy, gumption or will to move on.
Being afraid to hope feels more like disappointment; not wanting to take chances; being afraid of outcomes; and an inability to fully take hold of whatever is in front of me, because it may all fall apart anyway.
When I’m honest, my fear of hoping comes from not trusting God, and wanting life to go MY way, instead of HIS way.
If I put my hope in people, or outcomes, or the acquisition of things, then I will be disappointed.
I hope to take a trip to Florida; I hope my husband takes me out to dinner AND has the kids fed before I get home; I hope this new plan I’m putting together brings in income; I hope work is easy today…
If I put my hope in God, and trust that His plan is better than mine, my hopes are rewritten in a new way:
I trust that God loves my kids even more than I do. I trust that He will use each experience to hone them, and form them…the good and the bad…just as He has done for me. I trust God loves my family, and has good plans for us, and will lead us in ways to come alongside each other, exactly as we need to each day. I trust that God has a plan, so I will do my work diligently. I trust him to provide exactly what we need.
My fear of hoping also comes from disappointment in the times that I hoped for things that did not come to pass.
I hoped for our small business to not go out of business, but it did.
I hoped for my children to be born healthy, but one spent three weeks in the NICU and then has had to endure many surgeries throughout his childhood.
I hoped for relationships to be restored, only to have them continue to be bitterly broken.
I hoped to be a writer with my books covering an entire shelf in the library…but God has had other plans, so far…
Why am I so quick to list my dashed hopes, instead of hopes that were fulfilled? Afterall, the Bible says “we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4
The truth is that there have been many, many times my hopes had great outcomes:
I hoped for a new piece of equipment for our business, and it came to pass, allowing us to continue to employ our staff for many more years.
I hoped for my husband to be cured from his Stage 3 testicular cancer, and he was healed and made whole again, even after being so very sick.
I hoped for three children, and, despite many odds, I now have three beautiful, healthy children…even though the doctors said we wouldn’t have a third, after my husband’s cancer diagnosis.
I hoped for a way out of running our all-consuming business, and to pursue ministry work…and God led me out of our business, and into my current job at a ministry.
But what is amazing about both the hopes that came to pass, and those that didn’t, is that they all grew me, refined me, and made me lean on God in an entirely new way. So, when the things I am hoping for now, don’t seem to be going my way, I need to trust that God is working me towards something better.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jer 29:11
Now I’m working on aligning my hopes with God’s plan for me. I’m asking if the things I’m putting my hope in are things that will pass away, or if it’s in something deeper and more meaningful.
What does life look like if our hopes aren’t in things or people? What if we have hopes like these:
I hope to live my life in a way that is consistent and kind.
I hope to be a light to the people around me, and encourage them as they walk out the tough stuff of life.
I hope to let go of the things the world says I should be (or my kids should be, or my husband should be), and really see them and love them for who they ARE; for who God made them to be.
Learning to put our hope in God means valuing what God values, over what the world values. It means aligning ourselves with His plans, instead of our own plans. It means realizing that the outcome isn’t about more money or a bigger house, or a newer car, but about what He’s doing in our lives to grow us closer to Him, and closer to each other.
Afterall, where God is growing a heart, hope abounds.
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:5
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people. Ephesians 1:18