When hope isn't simple
Advent. How did the Christmas season arrive so quickly? And yet last Sunday many lit Advent's first candle, and the sentiment of hope sparked life to tired hearts. At least that was the intent.Hope is such a fragile thing.
Truth is, we all struggle to hang onto hope sometimes, don't we? When we stand at the beside of a loved one, we hope for a few more moments, one last word before the veil of a different world comes between us. We hear bad news from a friend, and we hope her fears prove untrue. We breathe in and breathe out, and we face a world that has gone crazy, and I don't know about you, but sometimes I find it hard to hope in the future.
But of course, that always depends on where I place my focus.
When I look into the pain of a widow's eyes or share the heartache of a mom whose child is hurting or find myself suffering in ways I never imagined, it can feel overwhelming. How to help? What to say? How do I drag myself out of my own sense of despair?
Sometimes life feels like we've slipped into a mud pit. And sometimes we lower ourselves into the trap all on our own, except the rope breaks on the way down and we're left with no way out.
Life is like a pit sometimes, and in a pit hope hangs by a thread. We think if our circumstances would change and someone would pull us out, we would be happy again. If only this...if only that...then our future would be bright. Hopeful.
Hope can seem so simple.
And yet, sometimes it's the hardest thing. And we need to do the hard work of hanging onto the rope that got dropped in on us, not because we can find a way to toss it over the opening and pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, so to speak, but because when we hang onto the thread and cry out for help, we acknowledge that we can't save ourselves. We can't even restore our own hope without help.
Hope isn't as simple as it seems.
The Psalmist said, "A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save." That might sound like a strange verse to us today, but back then, David faced a lot of pits, a lot of cave dwelling, a lot of war. And he learned early on that he couldn't win a battle without God's help.
In a similar way, we can't win our own inner battles or change a world where there are too many wars without outside help. We need Someone better, bigger, and stronger than a horse. And I'm not talking about war machines.
We need Someone who can give us hope again. We need Someone who can change the human heart. Because if we are truly honest with ourselves, we know, we have to realize, that the things, the people, the circumstances that strip us of hope deep down wouldn't be able to do so if not for the attitudes of our own hearts. We need Hope that heals our hurts. Hope that binds up the broken. Hope that came to be because of us.
Hope that died to change our hearts.
That kind of hope is so simple and so complex that we will never fully understand it. Because there are three things that remain, when all is said and done in this life - faith, hope, and love. While the greatest may be love - faith and hope are connected to love.
Love is a person who freely gives us faith. And faith in Him gives us hope for our future and secures the line that pulls us out of the pit. Even if the circumstances don't change. Even when the news isn't good. Even when we're hurting in the deepest place.
We hope with purpose because Jesus came. That's what that Advent candle really represents.
I don't know about you, but I need hope to be the Word I cling to, the Person I cling to this coming year. Because the future needs hope.