My friend Stacy just posted this as her facebook status:
Stacy is thinking about how hope can sometimes act like a curse instead of a blessing. But in spite of its potential to be repeatedly crushed, I have to believe that hope with disappointments is better than no hope at all. Right?
I agree, Stacy.
When I was 15, I started praying for someone very dear to me. Some people would have looked at the exterior of his life and written him off as a hopeless case. He lacked direction, he was addicted to drugs, and he continually made bad choices. Sometimes even I wondered if my prayers for him were in vain. One day I received a phone call from him. I was 30. He told me how he had joined a Bible study and that he was now making good choices, had turned away from drugs and was committed to his faith and family. I sat at my kitchen table and cried at the goodness of God. If I had bought into the notion of “there’s no hope for him,” those 15 years of prayer would never have happened. I’m not saying my prayers were what caused his turn-around, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t hurt.
Today I struggle with a different set of circumstances. Some of them are very painful and I’m not sure how they will resolve. If I had no hope for a brighter future, I wouldn’t bother fighting for the things I value, even if I may be crushed. There’s a risk in hoping. I can wish for these circumstances to end up refined and beautiful from this fire I’m walking through. However, these things may end up as ashes instead. But do I stop desiring the best outcome? Do I keep looking at how I’ve been hurt in the past and give up on life?
When my dad was in the hospital, I never gave up hope that he would come out of there alive. When my husband was diagnosed with mulitple sclerosis, I never gave up hope that we would make life work around this illness. When our house was on the market for over a year, I almost gave up hope that it would sell. Even in the midst of the waiting game, I had that little slice of hope to keep me going, to clean the bathrooms once again, vacuum the carpets for the umpteenth time, and fluff the pillows just so in order to bring that one buyer to the table.
Today as I work through difficult situations, I know that to give up hope means to die. Maybe not a physical death, but part of me dies when I lose hope. In other words, hope is not just a feeling or a desire, it’s survival. It’s faith. It’s trust. It’s confidence.
So Stacy, yes, hope can seem like a curse when you desire something so much and it doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to. In the end, though, I have to believe that all things work out for the best. I know, that is so much easier said than done. But I’ll take the disappointments that come from hanging on to hope because I realize that when I stay in the expectation that hope brings, I’m in a place of complete trust in God. Whether he delivers the way I want him to and when I want him to is completely out of my control anyway. I will keep on hoping, because in some situations – most situations, actually – that’s all I have.