Hope is a word often used lightly or in a way which skirts its intended or exact meaning.
You might say, “I hope the Cowboys win this weekend” or “it’s my hope to make it to the meeting on time.”
“I hope we have pasta for dinner” is a use an Italian cuisine foodie might enjoy.
You get the picture.
Dictionary.com defines the verb form of hope like this, “to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence”.
I prefer the noun definition, “a person or thing in which expectations are centered.”
Proverbs instructs us about the polar opposite effects of hope deferred and hope realized.
When hope’s dream seems to drag on and on, the delay can be depressing. But when at last your dream comes true, life’s sweetness will satisfy your soul. Proverbs 13:12 (The Passion Translation)
The New Living Translation puts it this way.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
If you have a heartbeat you surely have had things you hoped for delay their arrival or be absent altogether.
A tearful mother might say, “I wish my son would call, it’s been years since we have spoken and I miss him.”
Hope deferred. Ouch.
A young husband may express, “We’ve longed to have a baby and now my wife is pregnant.”
Desires fulfilled and life’s sweetness satisfying one’s soul. Pure excitement!
Like the wind, you can’t see hope or touch it.
Or can you?
Like many Americans and others from around the world, my thoughts have been captured by recent current events.
A week started with an attack on innocent bystanders in Manhattan on a crisp, fall day. These were people taking in the best the season has to offer – they were out for walks, jogs, and riding their bicycles while soaking in the richness and colors of autumn.
A day which commenced with the best of intentions ended in tragedy. Innocent people mowed down on a bike trail by an alleged terrorist using a rented truck as weapon.
Six days later in a community near San Antonio, Texas twenty six members of a small, Baptist church were killed by a crazed gunman while they attended their weekly morning service. They were there to worship God.
What they, and the nation, soon discovered was unimaginable horror unleashed by a perpetrator’s hatred ending in a shooting rampage. More than half of those who died were children, including the pastor’s 14 year old daughter who attended the service while her parents were out of town.
One family lost eight members, spanning three generations, in the senseless killings. News reports cited crying babies being shot at point blank range.
Most of the church’s congregation was either killed or injured. Horrific, simply horrific!
As onlookers from afar, it could be easy to allow the hope meter to point toward empty especially after watching many of the news reports.
For those who remain in Sutherland Springs, their families and friends were taken away – needlessly I might add.
If ever there were a legitimate reason to lose hope, this would be it. No one would blame them.
Circling back to my preferred definition of hope, “a person or thing in which expectations are centered” offers a potential solution.
Can there be a person in which our expectations could be centered and produce hope?
This is a bill which cannot be paid in human form.
As I sit here and think about this, the words contained in an old hymn seem to offer us The Hope we might be looking for in this or any situation where hope is needed:
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus name.”
The refrain continues,
“On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”
On the surface hope is one of those things which we cannot touch. However, beneath the surface Hope touches us in the form of a loving God working through people caring for one another.
For the people in Manhattan or Sutherland Springs affected by these senseless tragedies, the hope they long for has been found in the tears shared with neighbors, the courageous actions of first responders, the arms of compassion extended to them by friends and strangers, and the millions of prayers being offered to a living God on their behalf.
Vice President Pence offered his thoughts while visiting Texas as shown in the image below.
“…we do not grieve like those who have no hope – for our faith (God) and our heroes (people) give us hope.”
Good words to hang your hat on.
Be His hope to someone today whether it is by your words or actions – make a difference in your world.
Hope is calling on you today, will you answer the call?