Hope 101


Here’s what I know:
Winter doesn’t last forever.
Dormant isn’t dead.
Rest is required to flourish and flower.
That which seems to be harsh, like winter’s bleak cold, is necessary for the next phase of growth.
The sun is there even when we don’t see it.

Is there anything more hopeful than those first, brave snowdrops?

It did feel like this was going to last forever, but the snowdrops say differently.

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Yesterday, Barack Obama gave a speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Martin Luther King, Jr’s church.  He talked about hope and how it has characterized his life thus far.  Among other things he mentioned that he wasn’t born to wealth or privilege, but that he was given love, an education and some hope.

He goes on to say that his hope is not blind optimism or ignorance of the barriers and hindrances that stand in ones way, but, in fact, just the opposite.

“Nothing in this country worthwhile has ever happened except somebody, somewhere decided to hope . . . that’s how this country was founded . . . that’s how slaves and abolitionists resisted that evil system . . . that’s how the greatest generation defeated fascism . . . that’s how women won the vote . . . that’s what hope is, imagining and then fighting for and struggling for and sometimes dying for what didn’t seem possible before.  There’s nothing naive about that.  There are no false hopes in that.

Imagine if John F. Kennedy had looked up at the moon and said, “That’s too far – false hopes – we can’t go there”

If Dr. King had stood on the Lincoln Memorial and said, “Ya’ll go home – we can’t overcome.”

… change doesn’t happen from the top down . . . but from the bottom up.  It happens because ordinary people dream extraordinary things . . .”

While I’m not ready yet to take a stand on Obama’s politics, he does have my attention.  And I was moved by the power not only of his words and ideals, but by the stirrings of hope in my spirit.

Here’s what I’m hoping for the future; me, one ordinary person who is willing to live out my hopes in order to make an attempt to leave the world a little better than I found it.

  • I’m hoping that those who claim the name of Christ can learn to be like him in the small and beautiful ways that characterized His walk on this earth, that we will begin to love our neighbors as ourselves, that we will fight injustice and inequality and poverty because what hurts our neighbor hurts us.
  • I’m hoping that we will learn how to respect the earth and be willing to pay whatever price is necessary for a healthier environment for our children.
  • I’m hoping that we will learn how to fight injustice without violence and that we will learn how to live side by side with those who are different from us, that we will begin to understand that we are all in this together, and that we will realize it is not just our own children that we fight for, but the children of the world, who are closer to us than we imagine.
  • I’m hoping for peace on earth and good will toward men.

For further thoughts on hope, go here:
Hope 101: Believe it or Not
Hope 101: not disappointed again

I’ve been trying to write about hope off and on for months.  One of the reasons I’ve been having trouble with it is that I’ve been struggling (and am still struggling) with being hopeful myself.  Another is that I think I was trying to say too much and it was becoming unwieldy.  So I decided to publish a series of posts on hope.  Know what? I’m still struggling to find the words.  But I thought if you would indulge me I would drag you along on this journey of discovery with me.  And we both might learn something along the way . . .  here’s hoping!

 

Have you ever been disappointed by hope?  I have.  A lot.  I hope I get that Ipod for Christmas; those flowers for my birthday; that job I wanted.  I hope he/they/she likes me.  But Romans 5 says that hope does not disappoint us.  What gives?

There’s hope and there’s God’s hope:

When we say we hope, we usually mean it in an I wish kind of way.  I hope you have a good vacation.  I hope my test comes back negative.  That’s the way hope is used in our culture.  But the kind of hope spoken of here is hope that comes from a life of faith in Christ.  It is akin to the hope we have to do well on our final when we have studied hard and know the material well.  It is, in other words, a hope based in something true and not just wishful thinking.

God’s hope doesn’t depend on circumstances:

We hope that things go our way, that life favors us, that kindness smiles upon us.  But God’s hope is based on the fact that He has poured his love into our hearts by His Spirit.  The cool thing about that is that nothing can alter or diminish it.  Nothing that we do, nothing that’s done to us, no circumstances can change the fact that God loves us and this is the foundation for our hope.

In order to have His hope, we must trust God:

I know this is the truth.  I’ve had a lot of things in my life not go the way I wanted them to.  There are thing in my life I wouldn’t choose.  There are thing not in my life that I want badly.  But I’ve noticed that the hopelessness comes when I don’t trust God.  It comes at those times when I forget that He loves me, when I forget that He allows trials and hardship into my life to make me more like Jesus, when I forget that being more like Jesus is more important than having things go my way.

In fact, I’ve taken to writing the word hope on my hand in the morning to remind myself throughout the day that hopelessness has no place in the life of a daughter of the King.

Here’s that full text from Romans 5 (I’ll be talking more about other parts of it later in the series):
1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Go here for further thoughts on Hope:
Hope 101: Believe it or not

Sometimes, the sun is harder to find than
others.  Sometimes life seems drab, cloudy, raining, drippy, yuk.  At those times, my face seeks the sun like the compass needle seeks north.  On the sunny days, it’s easier to believe in love and hope and dreams coming true.  But on those other days, the drippy days, the belief is buried under a heavy layer of cumulonimbus.

But, here’s the thing.  The sun is there whether I believe in it or not.

And hope is real whether I believe it or not.

(this is the first in Hope 101 – a series of posts about hope)