And Yet, Hope

I'm almost done with my fifth year of "higher" education. I'm somehow still up to my eyeballs in work to finish, but it'll all be over soon.
And then...

The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!

The LORD looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.

Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33: 10-32 (ESV)


What's hope?

Etymology is no help here.

I know the "God frustrates your plans" bit. I know that all too well.
also, the false hope of the "war horse." So I know what hope isn't.
What is it, though?
What is it to have my heart "fashioned" by God?

Maybe St Paul has something...

When God made his promise to Abraham, he backed it to the hilt, putting his own reputation on the line. He said, "I promise that I'll bless you with everything I have—bless and bless and bless!" Abraham stuck it out and got everything that had been promised to him. When people make promises, they guarantee them by appeal to some authority above them so that if there is any question that they'll make good on the promise, the authority will back them up. When God wanted to guarantee his promises, he gave his word, a rock-solid guarantee—God can't break his word. And because his word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable.

We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It's an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 6:13-20 (Trans. Peterson, 2002)

OK, that's something.
Hope is a lifeline, but not just any lifeline: hope is the word of the creator of Heaven and Earth. Not the plans of an architect, not the suggestion of a consultant; no, this is the. word.
The First Cause. The unmoved mover. The force of creative power which can call something into being.
When he says something, you'd better believe it's going to happen.

So that's hope.
God's given his word,
And I can trust him.

Why does that still feel so empty right now?


Michelle said...

I always am taken aback when someone quotes scripture, or writes it on a blog, for whatever their own reasons and you hear it, or read it, and somehow it was exactly what you need to hear. Its kinda funny how God works through whatever media He chooses.

I'm sorry that you don't seem to be very hopeful right now, but your post filled me with emense hope. Thanks Dan.

Anonymous said...

i feel ya, man...

i always remind myself that i am "a prisoner of hope". that means that there are, in fact, some things that i DO hope for. do i trust any of what G-d has deposited in me - the dreams, the visions, the ideas? more and more i am convinced that hope is active (much like its conjoined siblings - faith and love) and that there is a requirement to act and move forward based on those hopes.

you're talking about hope as an abstract, and a theological concept, but i have no idea what your actual hope is. what do YOU hope for daniel?


Anonymous said...

Hope is the essence of not pausing to believe that a thing won't/or will happen, even if it does not seem that way. The problem that can arise from hope is non-satisfaction. You become so tangled in what you hope will happen, that you no longer concentrate on what you have. Hope can make you feel empty becasue when you focus solely on hope, you focus only on what you do not have. Hence being empty. Hope can be a wonderful thing, but instead think of it as a thing to remind you what is ahead, then take a minute to realize what you have. Do you really think after all His promises and what He has already done, the Lord would not care, or indeed give you everything you need to be happy now? So "don't worry, be happy" a cliche true, but still the best way to actually live.


Daniel Jackson said...

What do I hope for?
Am I "happy"?

I'm "happy." It doesn't take much to make me happy; you all know that.

Last year, I thought that the big exciting goal to push for was going to be this year of courses--writing, reading, honing my skills. Instead, I've found comfortable mediocrity.
I could be happy with that.
I am thankful for it.
But there's got to be something more than mediocrity.

Is my mind a garden, or a compost heap? What's the difference?

Anonymous said...

"hope deferred makes the heart grow sick, but when it [the thing we're hoping for] comes it is a tree of life"

again, what is the thing you're working towards and therefore hoping for? because i think that's implied by hope - it ain't static or passive - in fact, it may be required.

so yes: compost heap, garden, whatever (just not a potted plant)...


rush said...

The most we can hope for is that we will find joy in our work. I believe that is a weak paraphrase of Ecclesiastes—but for me it defines some practical limits to the 'things hoped for'.

Our life is defined by the work we put into it, whether that be contributing to cutting edge thinking, or caring for a loved one. Work is inescapable. As toddlers we are expected to pickup our toys, as children we are expected to work in school, as adults we are expected to make a living, and even as retirees we are called on to help others.

I often find myself hoping that my work is meaningful to myself and others. The bigger question is do we find our work meaningful in the what others think of it, or can we find our work meaningful in and of itself.

I think successful people have moved beyond the expectations of others, and have developed internal standards for measuring the value of their life's work.