Hope 1

Straight Hope

Hope, #1

Hello and Happy February!

Here it is, the first of February! It’s still a brand, new year! Whether January was a jackrabbit or a snail, it was only 1/12 of the year. Previously, when I made resolutions, by this time most of them had gone by the wayside. How about you? Are you continuing in your resolutions? Are you still focusing on your theme for the year?

It’s good we all want to resolve to make changes at the beginning of the year. It shows we are hopeful that things can be different. Hope is a good thing. Not the wishful- thinking kind of hope but the determined-to-believe and expect-it kind of hope. Hope is an active verb. Otherwise, it’s just a wish, an impossible dream with no substance.

Did you choose a word or phrase for this year? I received some responses to that question. They include: rest, trust and follow, healthy, optimistic, prosperous and evolving. Good stuff!

I’m finding that focusing on one word is different and do-able! For 2018, my word is HOPE. Without even looking for a sub-word (is that a thing?) for Wintertime, WAIT presented itself and I think it’s very appropriate.

This 2018 Winter season, I’m Hopefully Waiting.

Winter is a season of quiet waiting, it’s being snuggled down in rest while we await springtime and warmth. I’m hopeful that the rest-time of winter is indeed growing good stuff within, unseen. Like the flowers that seem to be gone; or the trees that seem to be dead, my Hope is that I am experiencing re-generation, gaining strength and developing clearer vision as I wait in expectation of good things to come.

I’m not rushing into anything. I’m just trying to get better acquainted with HOPE. I’ve found that I’m better off when I learn some basics about a subject and then let it develop into understanding. Allow it to engage my mind, and feed my body, soul and/or spirit.

So, for “basics”, I like what Bible.org has to say about HOPE:

“What is hope? Is it a wishy- washy maybe or a kind of unsure optimism? The modern idea of hope is “to wish for, to expect, but without certainty of the fulfillment; to desire very much, but with no real assurance of getting your desire.”

“In Scripture, according to the Hebrew and Greek words translated by the word “hope” and according to the biblical usage, hope is an indication of certainty. “Hope” in Scripture means “a strong and confident expectation.” Though archaic today in modern terms, hope is akin to trust and a confident expectation.”

“Hope may refer to the activity of hoping, or to the object hoped for—the content of one’s hope. By its very nature, hope stresses two things: (a) futurity, and (b) invisibility. It deals with things we can’t see or haven’t received or both.”

Hope is hard, moment-by-moment work- at least it is for me. But when I “lose hope”, it’s really simply misplaced. There’s a song that says, “Hope is frail but it’s hard to kill”*. I might have shoved her into a dark corner when I gave way to the fears that plot against me. But Hope is nearby. Hope is there even if I’ve scared her under the bed when I gave in to weary desperation that sometimes nips at my heels. She is always there.

I can coax Hope out again with gratitude. I can nurture her and help her get healthy again by paying attention to her, trusting God and believing. Hope needs to be watered and tended with care. Like that houseplant sitting in the corner all shriveled up, Hope might appear dead but, given sun, water and a little fertilizer, she will green up and grow again.

Hope can be shared with someone who has misplaced theirs. She must be offered gently, though, and with honesty. Hope isn’t a pat-answer or a glib-response. She’s not a pat on the head, either. No. Hope must be given quietly, with compassion that says, “I understand”. She must be given with a deep but gentle hug that embraces not only the person but also their sorrow. Hope is best shared with few words.

Hope does not disappoint (Romans 5:5). She may not come the way you want or look quite like you expect, but she will come. And when she does, it’s our choice whether we embrace her as she is or reject her. If we reject rather than nurture Hope, it’s we who have sent her away. We have not lost Hope, we have turned away from her, choosing instead the fears and disappointments. But even rejected, Hope is still there. She is forgiving and will gladly be embraced when we realize how much we need her. In the darkest, longest, stormiest night, the dawn will come. And even if the dawn is cloudy, it still gives us light. If fear or pain briefly gets the upper hand, we must turn as quickly as possible back to Hope.

A “thank you” will ignite the smoldering ember of Hope. A “thank you” through gritted teeth is ok too, if we turn toward Hope, no matter how rocky or insincere it feels at the moment. Hope can take whatever small thing you give her and cause it to grow until the thankfulness is sincere and the Hope has filled us to overflowing.

Good grief! All that sounds sorta sappy and “La-dee-dah”.! No matter what it sounds like, though, it’s true. I just need to temper it with some hard reality… next time.

Let’s just marinade in this for now. I hope you will seek out Hope and engage her. Or maybe she’s already your close friend. Let me know in the comments … what’s your relationship with Hope? Of course, we all have her but how closely acquainted with her are you? I’m developing this relationship. I need to know her better. She’s a close friend of Jesus and that’s a good reason to want to know her well!

I’ll continue these thoughts next time, in two weeks. Meanwhile, I’d truly love to hear your thoughts about Hope… or your New Year’s resolutions/words. Or whatever is on your mind!

Thanks for reading. Stay warm! I hope you find a way to enjoy winter! Please subscribe if you haven’t already. Thank you!

God bless you with extra doses of HOPE- whatever your situation!

*When You Believe, Celtic Woman