Lately I’ve been meditating on hope. I want to really know what hope is (not just nod and assent to a vague definition of the word). What does hope like with work boots on, not all dressed up for church? How is hope lived out in every day ordinary life? What does it look like to neglect hope and be hopeless as a Christian? What about occasionally feeling hopeful? And is occasional hopefulness what we are called to as believers? If not, what does being deliberately hopeful actually look like? What would others see in my actions? What would I be thinking on if I were hopeful?
After making a list under each category (Neglect, Occasional, Deliberate) of what hope would look like lived out, I realized I pretty much live in neglect…hopelessness. Sometimes I’m occasionally hopeful, depending on my circumstances or how others act. But mostly I believe and rehearse the lies that “it’s too hard” or “they’re too far gone” or “sin is too powerful”. I believe those lies and then confirm those lies with what others do or how they behave. I then think hope is something that happens to me, and is pretty much equivalent to a modern day miracle (rare, but not impossible, but probably not going to happen). Without being totally aware of it, I have a habit of marinating in hopelessness. But I’m called to have hope! So how do I deliberately hope? Here’s what was under my “deliberate” column.
- PRAY: Ask! Seek! Knock! Repent for my unbelief and hopelessness. Over and over and over again.
- REMEMBER: Keep my focus on who God is. My loving Father, My Savior, the Holy Spirit who is my Comforter, my Teacher, my strength.
- REHEARSE: Teach myself the Truth–Jesus has overcome! He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world. I am forgiven. I am no longer a slave to sin. God has overcome sin and Satan. All of my hope must be in God, not in how others respond, act, or behave. God loves those in my family who are lost way more and way better than I do. I need to rehearse these truths (hard to remember to do) instead of lies (easy to do, my default mode).
- PERSEVERE: Stay on the narrow path, despite what others do or say, or don’t do or don’t say. Follow Him who walks ahead of me. No matter how long, no matter how tiring, no matter how sick or exhausted I’m feeling, no matter if the weather is miserable, if there’s a mess on the floor, a fight down the hall, a crisis in the family…no matter what tries to push or tempt me from the path (worry, fear, hardship, persecution, etc). Persevere in hope. My God loves me and sees me.
- FOCUS: Focus on following Christ. Don’t focus on my cross, don’t wander around with it on my back, pulling me down, cutting me up. Take up my cross and follow Him. Lift my eyes to see His face. Don’t focus on the world, or what is imploding around me. Live in the calm in the center of the storm, with Christ, full of thankfulness.
- ABIDE: Worship Him! Praise Him! Live with profound thankfulness because of the hope He gives. When I’m sliding into hopelessness, that means my focus is wrong. Start again at number 1.
So all of that to say, hope is NOT something that happens to me.
Hope is not a happy but fleeting glimmer that comes and goes.
Hope is not dependent on my circumstances or on others.
Hope is the work of faith.
Hope is faith with its mucking boots and overalls on.
I know I haven’t even scratched the surface of what hope is, but I now know it’s not something that maybe someday hopefully I’ll get. It is work. It is hard work because I am living in a world that puts hope in anything and everything but God, and I’m tempted to fall into default mode and do the same. Hope is grown with repentance. And intention. And repetition.
So, now the next part of meditation is asking and answering how I apply these truths about hope (and my habit of hopelessness) to specific circumstances in my life. That’s next. That’s going to take some thought and prayer.
Also, I’d love to hear your thoughts. What is hope? What have you thought it is? How do you apply hope to your faith? How do you apply it to specific circumstances in your own life?
For those of you who are always curious as to how I meditate, here’s a look at my very messy Bible Journal page: