Can Christians be without hope? Can Christians hate hope? Does this sound sacrilegious to you? If we believe in a God who has saved us from an eternity forever separated from Him, if we believe in a God that has provided a way for us to be reunited with loved ones who also believe in Him, if we believe in a God that looks on us as the apple of His eye, than how in the world can we hate hope – how can we be without it? If we believe in God – do we have to believe in hope? What happens to a believer who has lost his hope? What happens to a believer who even hates it?
I want to know what brought him to that point. My heart goes out to him. I’ve been there too.
In a couple of months, the 2 year anniversary of my sister-in-law’s death will be landed upon, whether I’m ready for it or not. I don’t know if this day will bring fresh pain, or if this day will glide on by without much notice. In sadness, in grief, emotion knows no difference in days. Time does not heal wounds. All it can do is bury them.
What is hope? We are called to have a ready answer to our hope, if asked for our reason of it. But what if we have lost it? Hope goes hand in hand with faith. Hope is coupled with love. I believe hope is another name for God.
Here are some definitions of hope, courtesy of Webster;
1. the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out well
6. to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence
8. to feel that something desired may happen: We hope for an early spring
9. Archaic. to place trust; rely
10. hope against hope, to continue to hope when the situation appears bleak
Looking at all these definitions, it’s obvious to see that hope is a feeling. I think for most people, hope is not much more. But to those who believe in God, hope is much more. Hope is a promise. Hope is God’s hand extending out to you. Hope is a divine perspective. It is solid. It is an action. It is a choice.
A choice? I’m asking myself that right now. I remember dark days when I felt, “I did not choose this. I did not choose to lose hope. It left me stranded.” Sometimes the dark pull into despair is so strong and so instantaneous, that we are stunned of where we landed once we take a look around.
I did not stop hoping Michelle would be all right, that evening that changed her family’s lives. Hope refused to leave. Hope refused to leave even though I saw the looks on my family’s faces when I entered the ER. Hope refused to leave while my brother described what she looked like. Hope refused to leave when we were led to the ER’s family room, instead of to Michelle. Hope refused to leave when the doctor finally came to describe Michelle’s brain injuries. And even though I knew nobody could survive what was described, hope for a miracle would not leave until the doctor told us, “she didn’t survive.”
And then devastation replaced hope. The unthinkable happened. And I became resentful and angry. Where was God now? Why didn’t he pull us out of this pain? Where was the peace he promised? Where was his strength?
The tough thing about hope is the waiting. Waiting through pain. Waiting through days of “blah.” Waiting in silence. Waiting for something, though you don’t quite know what you’re waiting for.
Can believers hate hope? Can believers lose it? Yes. No. Maybe. I don’t know. Have you? We will all visit pain in our lives. God does not grant immunity once we cross the line of faith.
Maybe we can lose our grip on hope, maybe we can lose our grip on God, but I know this for sure; God will never let go of us. And so I believe, hope will never let go as well.
I have the ability now to look back on that time when hope was so scarce – when I choked on those worship songs that spoke of it. I was so disappointed that the feeling of hope wasn’t as strong as what I thought I needed it to be. I felt betrayed. Did I believe that I would see Michelle again someday? Yes. Was there hope in that thought? Yes, but it didn’t give me back my friend. Her spot is still empty. The intense sadness I felt overshadowed the hope that I had.
Maybe we need to give ourselves a little breathing room. Maybe we need to let each other grieve. Eventually, we will hold onto hope again. Eventually, we will hold onto God again.
Until we can do that, maybe we can find comfort in believing that it is enough, just knowing that God isn’t finished with our story. There is the hope my friend.
Hating Hope (written a few weeks after Michelle’s death)
you’ve lost it.
for my hand.