Recent comments by presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann have stirred up the discussion about gay marriage once again. While speaking to a group of high school…
We use the word hope so often that it can go by unnoticed. We use it to talk about our sports teams: “I hope New England is headed for the Super Bowl” (Go, Pats!). We use it to speak of the mundane: “I hope Mom’s making meat loaf for dinner.” Sometimes, we even use it flippantly: “Well, I hope you’re happy now!”
Hope is tossed out about our everyday challenges. We hope for a job promotion, better health, good weather. We hope that we succeed on exams, make that big sale, and hit the high notes. In some sense, the concept permeates our day-to-day lives.
We hope in the abstract when we envision the bigger picture. We have dreams we want to see fulfilled in some way. We might hope for a better future or a meaningful existence or world peace or a cure for cancer. We hope for desperate circumstances to turn around in our favor; that a loved one might come through surgery or that we would be healed of an illness. We hope the missionary team we sent to Africa would return safely and that our children would be protected from harm.
In fact, the word leaves our lips so many times in a day or a week that it loses its potency. The real question is, in what (or in whom) do we place our hope?
Is our hope that the Universe at large will hear and respond? Is it a throw-away, a generic thought that it would be nice if something went our way, a sort of wish? Or is that hope grounded in the reality of Someone outside ourselves?
Hope is the desire for an outcome, the fruition of an internal longing. But if our hope is misplaced, it won’t sustain us. Nebulous hope, directed at no one, is transient.
As for me, I want my hope to reflect this:
The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. (Psalm 147:11, NIV).
Not hope in what God may do: That God would help me succeed, solve a problem, or change a circumstance. No, I want to put my hope in God’s love. As I pondered what that means and how I could reflect it, I was reminded of Jesus’ own words:
May your kingdom come.
May what you want to happen be done on earth as it is done in heaven. (Matthew 6:10, NIrV)
This hope in God’s love is the form of having God’s plans fulfilled right here on Earth. We who call ourselves followers of Christ have a responsibility to live that hope, to act on our faith in such a way that hope becomes reality. John Ortberg, author of God Is Closer than You Think, calls this “bringing Up There, down here.” In the 2003 film Bruce Almighty, Bruce says to “be the miracle.” We are the reflection of God’s love and the hope that accompanies it.
May 2012 be a year in which we bring Up There, down here and give hope to a troubled world.