Hope is a funny thing. It's something we constantly face whether it's getting our hopes up for something or getting let down when things don't turn out how we hoped they would. I've misunderstood true hope for so long and as I faced disappointment and the feeling of hope being dashed, I began to realize I really didn't understand true hope.
Hope is actually my middle name and over the past year or so it's the area where I've felt the most challenged. As I would get my hopes up for something, it always seemed like at the last minute my hope would get crushed as the plans didn't turn out like I thought. Whether it was hope for a dream, calling or my relationship status changing, everywhere I turned things were seeming hopeless in sense. That was until I fully understood hope. The type of hope I had was the wrong mindset. I was hoping for many things, but unknowingly doubtful that it would happen. I viewed hope through the distortion of rejection. However, hope is not in the things we see. Hope is not a wish, it's a will- God's will. Hope is in the unseen things and having a confident expectation that God is moving. Hope is trusting God for that promise even when it seems impossible and hope is still trusting him even if it doesn't look how we thought it would.
There's a proverb that I always read regarding hope, but it didn't click with me until recently. It's Proverbs 13:12 and it says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." For a while I related this deferment to only mean that we get sad when something we hope for is delayed. However, in the midst of feeling hopeless about certain dreams and situations I listened to a podcast by John and Lisa Bevere that better explained this verse in regards to hope. When we have hope for something and that something either doesn't happen, gets delayed or goes a different direction it causes heartache. When it happens over and over again it's like our heart becomes sick and it's hard to hope. Lisa Bevere said this quote that I love, "Delay is not denial, delay is God preparing the person and situation." When we choose to overcome that heartache with expectation by trusting God is preparing what we are hoping for- we find life and others begin to find life as well through our hope. Our hope can't be in the thing we are hoping for, our hope has to be in God to fulfill that thing. God knows our future better than anyone, he knows the perfect timing, every part of the scenario and he knows our current state of heart and mind. He also knows when we need protecting as situations change.
For a while I was afraid to have hope for things because it seemed like I was wrong every time it didn't work out how I thought. I was worried that I might miss God's will so I sort of got frozen in my faith unsure of what to do. Looking back I don't know why certain things didn't work out, but I had to change my perspective and not let the enemy have power to deviate me from God's plan. Instead of blaming God, I had to learn to thank him. I had to learn to trust that he saw something I didn't and was protecting me. I had to learn that whether I was right or wrong, I had to still step out in hope and faith towards God's calling. I also had to remember that we aren't fighting against flesh and blood on this earth and there's more going on behind the scenes we don't see. There's a real enemy who wants more than anything to destroy our hope and our relationship with God by turning us against him when we get disappointed. We have to overcome those lies and know God's true character.
Understanding God's character comes with reading his word. A great example of his character is in Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit," and also Isaiah 40:31 says, "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint." What a promise! When we hope in the Lord rather than the world, we will have strength to persevere and overflow that hope to others. We can have hope that God will fulfill the promises he made and that he has good plans for us.
If you're feeling hopeless or just not feeling hopeful, I pray these words encourage you. When you are faced with discouragement about hope, look up all of the scriptures you can regarding hope. Trust that God is good and is moving in ways you can't even imagine to do good for you. Focus back on him and his character rather than your present circumstances.
Father God, thank you for the hope that only you provide. Thank you for the plans you have for me and thank you for seasons of wilderness where I grow to know you closer. Thank you for restoring my hope through you. I ask that you continue to encourage me through hope, joy and love and that you will renew my strength. Protect me from the lies of the enemy. In Jesus name, Amen.