Fuel Hope, Not Despair

Hope: to cherish a desire with anticipation: to want something to happen or be true: to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment: to expect with confidence

Sometimes even the Webster’s dictionary gives a faith-filled girl goose bumps. Simply to write out these beautifully-worded definitions stirs desire and expectation in my heart. I know I am not alone when I say that sometimes the gospel-centered life can feel like grasping at the wind. It seems aloof, mysterious, hard, perplexing, and yet we are told to hope in God. We are also warned that hope deferred or expecting without receiving will make the heart sick. I am prone to despair. I am well acquainted with a sick heart. My inner groaning’s far outweigh lighthearted joy and delight in the Lord, and so I have been asking myself, “Why?” If I truly know the Lord, then surely my heart has reason to be full of sincere and consistent rejoicing. It is only reasonable. The God of the Universe who has hung, named, and counted the stars has also seen fit to extend his masterful plan of redemptive love into my life and yet I despair? There is surely a breakdown in my system.

What I have realized is that my hope is often shallow and misled by my true and selfish desires. Hope creates a trajectory. If my hope is set on earthly things, I will only propel myself from one selfish indulgence to another. For example, have you ever started your day with a hair or wardrobe malfunction and you find yourself trying to make yourself feel better so you swing by Starbucks because surely that beautiful cup of coffee will fulfill your soul, but when your caffeine wears off you move to find your next hope fulfilled in the right music for your day and then when the excitement of your song wears off you seek to engage in the right conversation with the right friend because surely her comforting words will fulfill. Get the picture? The trajectory created is barely two inches from point A to B. It is short-lived and never truly satisfying. As believers it is our responsibility to fuel our hope in God or else we will fall quickly to despair. When we feed and fuel our heart and mind with God-focused food we create a Heavenly trajectory. When we set our heart and mind on the things of Christ we look upward, and as the old hymn says, “The things of this earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

Practically speaking, here are two of my favorite ways to fuel hope: One, do not give up meeting together. The traditional weekly gatherings are holy. Though hard at times to get there in one piece, my soul is always refreshed by singing truth and hearing the preached Word of God with my faith family. I also highly value time spent gathering in smaller groups for more intimate shared time with believers. Create opportunities for your life to be shared. Your testimony encourages and needs encouragement. I repeat, create opportunities. Don’t wait for someone else to come invite you into deep relationship, instead, go pursue it. These things take work but are well worth it. Secondly, my hope is fueled in generosity. Generosity is one of the quickest ways to create a Heavenly trajectory. I can’t think of any other way to be more like Jesus than to give. In our flesh, we lean towards fear and we attempt to hold on to and store up for ourselves, which actually heaps stress and defeat upon our lives. When we learn to hold all that God has given us with a loose hand instead of white knuckles we learn to live free, not bound by the things of this world. It’s beautiful. You begin to value your neighbor above yourself. You learn to lay down your preferences in order to serve someone else. You grow and nurture the capacity to see others the way Jesus did with eyes that wanted the gospel in every area of life; on the street, at the well, in the marketplace, at the party. Generosity fuels our hope in the gospel.

Let’s go back to the definition and pray through these thoughts on hope.

  1. A cherished desire with anticipation of fulfillment
  2. Confident expectation.

Oh Lord, thank you for a gospel centered hope, one that never disappoints or leads to despair. I pray that you would reveal to us by your Spirit what we truly cherish and anticipate. Turn our hearts to you. Stir in us a Heavenly hope which compels us to extravagant generosity and a life shared with others. We love you King Jesus. In your name we pray. Amen.

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Emily Walters

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