Thursday, October 22, 2009

What Does HOPE Mean to You?

"Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops...at all." ~Emily Dickinson


What is hope? Type that question into your Google browser and you will discover over 460,000,000 possible results. For one little four-letter word there are virtually endless possible definitions. How in the world could you ever narrow it down?


What comes to mind when you see the word hope? Dreams of the future? A fresh beginning? Unrelenting vision? Opportunity? OK, brace yourself for a paradigm shift here: Hope is not a feeling, but rather, a choice. Society repeatedly tells us that hope is a feeling. The literal definition of hope according to the dictionary is, "the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best." Trust me, if hope was a feeling, there wouldn't be too much of it in the world!--and I am not a pessimistic person; however, it is fair to say that if hope were entirely dependent upon our feelings, it would be pretty scarce.


If hope isn't a feeling, but rather, a choice, how can I choose to have hope? Let me ask you a question: have you ever seen the look on a woman's face after she has lost a baby? Utter devastation floods her entire being as her heart breaks inside her, yet there is still a tiny spark in her eyes. She is completely crushed, but there is still hope. In First Samuel, Hannah begged God to bless her with a child. Annually her family made a trip to Shiloh to offer sacrifices to God. She was barren and desperately wanted God to give her a son. In the midst of her pain and heartache, she went to the temple and cried out to God. First Samuel 1:10 says, "Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried--inconsolably." While she sought the face of her Father, she promised to dedicate her desired son to the Lord. She was so distressed that the priest thought she was drunk! But when Hannah left, she was a changed woman. Verse 18 tells us that she left with a "radiant" face. How could her outlook on life be this positive already? So she spent several hours pouring out her heart to God......she wasn't pregnant yet! How could she already be "radiant"--because she basked in the presence of her Savior held onto hope.


"Hope itself is a species of happiness, and, perhaps, the chief happiness which this world affords; but, like all other pleasures immoderately enjoyed, the excesses of hope must be expiated by pain." ~Samuel Johnson


We all are on this dusty trail called life. Each and every one of us faces different things in our lives. Hannah desperately wanted a son. Maybe you are struggling with wanting to know what your future holds. Or maybe you have been endlessly searching for a job. Maybe you just want God to bring that guy/girl into your life right about now. Maybe you are wondering why your parents decided to get divorced after forty years of marriage. Maybe _______________ (you fill in the blank). God gives us an immense seed of hope in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a future." God is holding you by the hand and wants to lead you along His path for your life. He already knows what your future holds, where your next job is, and who your future spouse is. God is telling you to grab onto hope and not let it go. "Hope is putting faith to work when doubting would be easier" (unknown). Feeling like doubting or not believing God right now? Choose to take a hold of hope and believe that God has it all planned out. Cry out to God like Hannah did. She walked away from time spent in His presence with radiance glowing on her face. So can you.


"He rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope." 1 Samuel 2:8, the message


What does HOPE mean to you?

1 comment:

Natalie Lloyd said...

It's crazy this is your most recent post, because the topic in my devo today was Hope. I'm reading Eugene Peterson's Living The Message, and in today's reading (or sometime this week ... I've missed a week or two so I had to pile up ;) he talked about the difference between hope and wishing. How people who live with hope don't have to fantasize about another life, they just live in expectancy, knowing God will do great things in their lives. I think I have a tendency to lump hope and wishing into the same category. That devo, and this awesome post, remind me what I'm missing out on when I try to live out some daydream fairy-tale and stop living my life.