Hope seems for me to be a foggy subject at best. I have great difficulty with it. I remember a time in my life when I was a very optimistic person. But life has a way of rubbing away the luster of things. Life has a way of oxidizing the shiniest of memories and the most promising futures and turning them to rusty old "use to be's" and "could've been's". I'd be lying if I said life hasn't nearly beaten the hope right out of me.
And that's a tough place to be...hope-less. Not totally without hope, but close. I refuse to watch the news. Don't read the newspapers or magazines. Very rarely do I give a cursory glance at the headlines on FOXNews. com. Too much pain and suffering. Too much lost hope in morality of humankind. Too much war and lying and distrust and pointing fingers. It's hard to feel hope in a world like ours. To be "ignorant" like I mentioned in a previous post is dangerous because then you become insulated from the important things going on in the world around you. To a certain point, one needs to be educated or you run the risk of being taken advantage of, of being abused emotionally, or simply feeling left out and clueless. That's not healthy. But how does one become brave enough to hope in a world filled with so much evil and sin?
Hope does require courage. Hope requires a bold fortitude that speaks out through word and/or deed against the world and what it stands for. Hope is painful. Hope is thankless. Hope requires commitment and perseverance and diligence. It's agonizing. It's heartbreaking. But it's necessary in order to live a life that is fully what and how God intends us to live.
Lacking Hope means lacking Faith, right? I think that's true. Maybe not, but in my line of thinking, if you have hope you have faith. If you have faith you have hope. That SHOULD be how it works. Faith in God and Jesus would ultimately lead to hope in the future regardless of circumstances. If we have faith that when we pass from this earth we will gain a life with God, then there's no need to fear any sort of malady, evil, or stain of this world. Our perception of our future on earth, good or bad, is pointless because Faith in God and His Son and belief in the work Jesus did on the cross cancels out any calamity we will face here. Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” I love the word "conviction" here, because it carries such weight to it. To be convicted in the intangible workings of God is a daunting task. It goes against EVERYTHING we grow into as we move from the innocent musings of a child to the critical eyes of an adult. It means we must protect (or relearn) that part of our nature that is in awe of and fully embracing of that Power in our lives that is Greater Than Us. That belief that was once pure and unperverted by the world.
That belief also gives each of us hope. If we have hope, then there is a strong element of faith tied into it. Hope means that we have a certain positive expectation about our future, and that can only come from a strong belief that God will lead us along the path that He knows is right for us. It's knowing that things will turn out right no matter the experiences we face during the journey. It's also having a unquestionable trust in God, and not limiting what He can do and accomplish through us. It's not trying to define "turn out alright" by our limited standards but rather by God's, which is incomprehensible to us.
And this is where I agonize over faith and hope. I have trust issues. It's hard for me to give over that part of me that basically breaks the chains of control and offers them to God to use as He sees fit. I struggle with deep deep valleys of distrust. And those dark places are not pleasant to visit. Trust can't be forced. It can't be manipulated into being. Trust comes with life and with experience. It comes with a mind over matter mentality that says, "No matter what, God has my back and everything will be A-O-K." But that is so difficult for me. It's an agonizing process, and I envy those who have it. Those people who have mastered the lifestyle of hope and faith and trust. To me, the struggle has been life-long, and, ironically, even more difficult at times now that I have re-dedicated my life to God. Isn't that terribly ironic or am I simply a terrible student? Who knows other than God?
Hope and Faith are goals of mine. I'm journeying along at this point....two steps forward, one step back; sometimes one step forward, three steps back. It's agonizing this audacity that is required to be a hope-filled and faith-filled person in this world. But ultimately the reward is eternal. And that gives me hope.