I used to think that hope was based on circumstances. One day the tide will turn. My prince will come. My luck will change. Superman will arrive. I’ll win the golden ticket. It’s all in the luck of the draw. But this mentality puts you in a passive, codependent role, helplessly waiting for your moment in the sun. That somehow your future and your destiny are up to chance, or the right people to come along, or the planets to align, etc. Not only does this type of thinking actually discourage hope, our anxieties increase. Setting our hopes on unfixed and fluctuating events threatens our feelings of security. We have no stability. Our souls have no anchor.
We should never establish our hope on these ever-shifting, temporary things. Hope isn’t driven by good luck or happenstance. It is neither determined by where we live nor how much money we have in our checking accounts. Hope isn’t dictated by opportunities that may potentially come our way or just as fleetingly pass us by. It isn’t based on getting in good with the right people or brutal betrayal from the wrong ones. Pleasant circumstances can certainly make our lives easier and more enjoyable, but they fail in providing us with true, ever-lasting hope.
Hope – rock-solid, constant, unchanging hope – is solely based on one PERSON alone: the Person of Christ who is God. Hope tells us that no matter how badly things may be, or how dreadful they once were, no matter how dark your circumstances may seem, that something good, something beautiful can and will be brought forth from our pain, and that this isn’t the end of our stories. And we have a loving God that wants to walk with us in our messes and accomplish great things through our pain.
God is our hope because He loves us. No matter how badly we’ve screwed up. No matter how badly someone else screws it up for us. He is always ready and willing to turn our pain into beauty.
When we invite God into our pain, into our suffering, anything is possible. As Joseph said to his own brothers that betrayed him, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). And as Paul tells us in Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” God can’t help it. It is in His nature – His good nature – to make good out of everything He touches. Everything that He breathes life into. Everything that we invite Him to draw near.
Another thing I am learning about hope…that it is the result of character developed from persevering through pain and suffering. Wait, what? Hope is the result of…character? Not things? Not money in the bank? Not the right relationships? “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3)
We can forfeit this beautiful exchange by giving up and letting go of God’s true purposes for our lives, by taking shortcuts or choosing routes that were never meant for us, bringing us more harm than good. By giving up on a destiny that we, deep down, know belongs to us, only to settle for something less than when the going gets tough. And it will be tough at times. Tougher than we think we can bear.
Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NIV). I love that Christ doesn’t lie to us. He is not selling us anything. He only offers us Himself, inviting us to hold on for dear life and not let go, by persevering through our pain, pushing through painful obstacles. Don’t give up. Learn what He wants to impart to our spirits. You won’t be embarrassed or put to shame. Christ Himself has promised that He will do this. He will turn our ashes into beauty. Our mourning into joy. Our pain, shame, bitterness, and anguish into a beautiful work. Our despair into hope. This is His business. This is His work.
He is our hope. And the good news for us is that when we place our hope in Him He will never let us down.
“And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:5 NLT
We all have pain. Pain is always a part of the story for every influential leader. Pain is a part of life, and how you work through pain will largely determine what kind of character you have. One who gets knocked down, time and again, and yet always hopes, always perseveres, always loves? Or one who gives up, gives in and lets cynicism take over? The choice is up to us.
Have you been through difficult circumstances recently? Have you made some major mistakes? You’re in good company. God does amazing things through those who are willing to let Him use us even in our sufferings. Don’t hide from the painful parts in your story. Embrace them. Lean into them. Claim them and allow God to work through them. So get back up and get to work.