Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Hope is an odd thing. It's a necessity, in many ways. We humans don't function well at all without it; it's an absolutely fundamental part of our beings to hope for something - a pay raise, a successful relationship, a good family, a new car... we hope for many things. That tendency to hope is a God-given attribute of humans. I can't say for certain, never having been anything other than human, but from what I've observed, I simply don't see hope in the animal kingdom, other than in this strange creature we call man. Anticipation, yes... but not hope. They are very different things.

Last semester was hard for me. I had a lot of my hopes crushed, a lot of dreams shattered and broken before my eyes. It's hard to describe what that feels like. The closest I've come was in a poem I wrote near the end of the semester. There's something truly terrible about having hopes fade away before your eyes - and not just one or even a few, but most, maybe all, of the things you hoped for in a given span of time. It was one of those semesters where I was dealing with difficulty in every part of my life: personal, relational, physical, spiritual. God's faithfulness has rarely if ever been more clear to me than it was in the midst of all of that. At least, up till that point, because it's become so much more clear to me in the intervening months than it was even in the midst of those trying times.

Interestingly, I'd have to say that, difficult as it was at the time, I'm immensely grateful that God allowed that. It was brutal, but it was also incredibly powerful, because it forced me to hope not in any person or circumstance, but in Him alone. The difference in where I was last semester and where I am now is remarkable, because He has taught me so much about leaning on Him. Just as importantly as where I am, too, is where I'm going. I could not have so completely let go of my old thoughts about my future and let God lead me had He not allowed all of my hopes and dreams and plans to be so thoroughly undermined. Sometimes what seems worst to us is really the very best thing that could happen to us. I don't know exactly where God is leading me, but I know it isn't where I thought it would be when people asked me that six months ago. I'm okay with that. Which is another change.

All of that to say that when we put our hope in things of this world - be that our own strength, the responses of others, or the circumstances of our lives - we will be disappointed, but often for our own good. Should we then not hope?

We should. But we should not hope in things here. We may hope for them - but if we place our hope, our confidence, in any part of this world, we will find those hopes and dreams crushed cruelly and miserably by this fallen world. We should expect nothing more, and nothing less, than that.

Yet we must hope! We cannot not hope; it is built into us as deeply as any other instinct. In what, then, can we hope? In Christ alone, of course. While we may hope for various events, circumstances, etc., to come to be, that hope must be centered on Christ. It must be a hope that is first and foremost centered in the hope - the assured hope - that we have of our secured relationship with Christ. We hope for things to come to pass in this world, but that hope is grounded in our faith in Christ's love for us and His perfect will for our lives. When those hopes do not come to pass, then, our disappointment is small in comparison to the contentment that we have in the knowledge that God's will for our lives is infinitely better than what we could even dream of. Those hopes, centered on His will, also tend to shift. We hope for things that are in His will. So less of our hopes are frustrated and fall short (though some, of course, still do, because this world is still fallen and broken in so many ways). And those that do - they do not shatter us as they once did. Our hearts are not crushed or downtrodden, because we know that in our great God's purposes are for a greater good than we can possibly hope to comprehend. We have joy and peace no matter what happens, because our hope is in the Hope, not an event. Then, when our hopes for various things in our lives do come to be, we rejoice in the One who brought them about, rather than in the circumstance itself. And that, too, is a greater and richer path to walk than one that is caught up in the event or happening.

When we hope in anything in this world, and it comes to pass, it is only a happening that can bring only happiness. When we hope in Christ for something, and it comes to pass, it is a reflection of Him that fills us with an even greater joy and gratitude.

That dichotomy is worth living out.

So my challenge to you is this: dare to hope again, if you have let the troubles of this world burden your heart. And dare to hope in Christ if you have put your hope in anything else.

My love to all of you, and above all, may you know our Father's love and grace. God bless you all, and good night.

- Chris


  1. thanks, chris - this is something i need to hear from time to time. i can't help but think, as i read these words from your heart, how much strength they will give you through the years as you continue to live them out. and, great poem!

  2. Chris,

    There was a quote I came across while working one day: "Hope should not be based on circumstances changing or even what we desire to see happen. Vibrant hope which will not fade is based solely on the character of God." That is truly hope which will not disappoint.

    How easy it is for all of us to lose hope because we don't see the changes we expect or we even what God has promised. Those promises are true. But I am slowly learning that how and when they are fulfilled is God's business, not mine. I am to simply keep my eyes on Him and trust.


  3. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.
    Proverbs 13:12 AMP

    But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.
    Matthew 6:33 AMP



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