“But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more” (Psalm 71:14).
I have a confession to make.
I lost my hope.
I had hoped in a dream that I believed was God’s plan for me – it was exciting and I was filled with anticipation. But when my life turned in a different direction, I set my backpack full of hope down and shuffled off on this unwanted new path. It all seemed more like a heavy burden – just another unfulfilled longing. It was easier to leave it behind than to continue carrying it around like so much dead weight.
The Bible mentions quite a few people who stood at the same crossroads. Moses, Elijah, and Naomi come to mind. Peter and several of the disciples, uncertain of where their lives are going after Jesus’ death, dejectedly went back to fishing (John 21). And then there are two of Jesus’ followers walking on the dusty road to Emmaus when they encounter a stranger. They tell him about Jesus (isn’t that a kick), sadly saying: “We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). They saw their lives going in a completely different direction than they expected.
Part of the problem is our understanding of the word “hope.” We say, “I hope it doesn’t rain out the picnic today.” “I hope he asks me to the prom.” “I hope you feel better soon.” – but these are spoken like “wishful thinking.” That’s a “cross-your-fingers” kind of hope. The Bible portrays hope as “an attitude of confidently looking forward to what is good and beneficial.” It’s a hope that serves as “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19). It’s not a hope in circumstances, but rather a hope in the One who called us and sustains us and guarantees a good outcome. It’s a hope that we can carry with us no matter what twists and turns life takes. Better yet, it’s a hope that carries us no matter what. That’s the kind of hope you and I need.
Remember Peter and those disciples on the road to Emmaus – the ones who had lost hope? Their stories didn’t end there. At the end of that fishing trip was breakfast with the risen Jesus and restored hope for Peter. At the end of the Emmaus road was the joyful realization that the stranger in their midst was the resurrected Lord Himself. In the end their hope was renewed, in fact, it was even stronger than before.
One of my favorite verses in seasons like this is Proverbs 13:12: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true at last there is life and joy.” I believe this is an assurance that our God-given dreams don’t get cast aside when life takes an unexpected turn. Because God expected that turn, even if I didn’t, and somehow my dreams will make the turn too. And when He brings them to reality, they may not look exactly like I envisioned, but they will be full of life and joy. And hope.
Holy Father, I’m picking my hope back up and I’m going to walk this new path with the assurance that “He who began a good work in me will bring it to completion” (Philippians 1:6). My hope is in You. There’s no better place for it to be. Amen.