Hope is not a Hallmark card sentiment for me.
It is often a fight to the finish. The battle is between my stinking thinking and the discipline to believe that if God is who He says He is. When I practice this disciplined way of seeing and being in the world, I have an inspired way of seeing that ALWAYS allows for the possibility of hope - regardless of my circumstances.
Hope is also realistic. It believes in miracles AND it accepts reality. When our dearly beloved friend Will was diagnosed with cancer I hoped for a miracle AND I paid attention to what the doctor and Will were teaching me about his condition. I so wanted the miracle, but I did not indulge in fantasy living - because that is not genuine hope.
Hope can bear the weight of reality and still be hope. In 2 Samuel 14:14, it says this:
We all have to die - we’re like water spilled out on the ground that can’t be gathered up again.
This in no way gives information about the exact date and time of any of our departures. But it teaches us a limit to our humanity - we are all mortals. We will all die at some time. This is a reality limit that must be factored into my hope.
It goes on like this: But God doesn’t take life away
I didn’t have to spend any energy wondering if God was taking Will (or any of the other folks we have loved and lost in our community over the past 20 years) because he needed another angel, or to pay for a crime he or someone else committed or to punish someone so that they might repent or to teach others a lesson at Will’s expense. God doesn’t take life away. Life is finite.
Furthermore, instead, he makes plans so those banished from him don’t stay that way.
A parent of another young adult who passed away recently is lamenting her daughter’s “lack of faith”; she is obsessively worrying over this thought that her daughter’s addiction “stole her child’s faith”; this is yet one more thing she regrets and blames herself for.
Someday soon I pray there will be a moment when she can see and hear 2 Samuel 14:14 for what it is - a small but powerful insight into how God loves us. He makes plans for restoration. This is hopeful. How he does it, what it looks like, I do not know. But any situation that I am tempted to wilt over is an invitation for me to remember this: we all have to die, but God doesn’t take life away, instead he makes plans so those banished from him don’t stay that way.
Hope is a choice; a spiritual discipline; a partner of reality; a gift from God.