Hope: a feeling of expectation or desire for a certain thing to happen. – Oxford Dictionary
“Now hope does not disappoint.” Many of us are familiar with this passage in Romans 5. We have seen it on magnets, bookmarks, and other cute memorabilia sold in Christian bookstores.
But what happens when hope feels like it’s hurt you? What about those times when you’ve gotten your hopes up, only to be devastated when the thing you were hoping for didn’t come to pass? This is real life, and chances are you are all too familiar with what I am talking about. We know from Proverbs 13:12 that “hope deferred makes the heart sick,” and we don’t want to be sick, so what are we to do when faced with disappointment?
The answer is hope, and hope again. Until recently, to me this seemed like a fairly easy concept. “Disappointment? It’s all good. It’s a part of life. In time, things will work out.” That is, until I realized that hope can sometimes feel very scary. A couple of years ago, after being faced with a particularly difficult disappointment in a certain area of my life, I was feeling defeated. Will the thing I am hoping for ever come to pass? How can I keep hoping and opening myself up to heartache over and over again? It would be much easier and feel a lot safer to just expect the disappointment – to try and protect my heart – that way if it happens again maybe it won’t hurt so bad. Hope is very vulnerable. Each time you choose it you leave your heart wide open and exposed to whatever may come; be it the joyous elation of desire fulfilled, or the heavy ache of being let down.
I was discussing this with a friend when she said “When I think about giving up hope, I consider the other options. Despair? Apathy? Numbness? No, thank you!” Simply throwing in the towel is not a viable option for life. Vulnerability is courageous. Choose courage. Choose to hope again, no matter how many times that means you have to shake the dust off and get back up. I know that this is so much easier to say than walk out; but I promise you, we can and must do this!
In Romans 4 we read that Abraham “hoped against hope,” meaning he “hoped without any basis for expecting fulfillment” (Merriam-Webster). Verses 20-22 state that “He did not waver in unbelief at the promise of God but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God. He was fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to do. So indeed it was credited to Abraham as righteousness (emphasis added).” That alone is a pretty amazing result of hoping and trusting!
One of my favorite definitions of hope is “the joyful anticipation of good.” It is lifegiving. The scripture above is true when it says that “hope does not disappoint.” Circumstances may, but we can be assured that hope will not.
What has God promised you? What desire do you have in your heart that you have yet to see fulfilled? I encourage you today to hope against hope; against your current situation, knowing that He who has promised is faithful. Your time will come, and when that which you desire is fulfilled, it will be a tree of life to your heart!