“The Hidden Power of Hope”
Christmas is all about finding the hidden power of hope. When Mary gave birth to the baby Jesus she was giving birth to the promise of hope. We all want hope, but hope is sometimes poorly portrayed, leaving us uncertain. I recall a line from the movie Shawshank Redemption where Andy, played by Tim Robbins introduces the subject of hope in a letter to Red, who Morgan Freeman plays. Red responded by saying, “Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It’s got no use on the inside. You better get used to that idea.” What do you think? Is hope dangerous or is it powerful?
“Hope Is a Tease”
Here’s another quote. This one is from the television series Downton Abbey. Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) had a chance encounter with an old lover, Prince Kuragin (played by Rade Serbedzija and borrowed from Tolstoy’s War and Peace). He asks her to run away with him, just like they had planned many years prior but were caught by his wife. He remarks: “When you go through a storm like ours, you give up hope quite early on in the proceedings.” The Dowager Countess of Grantham replied: “I agree – hope is a tease, designed to prevent us accepting reality.”
I Had a Dream About Hope
1 morning last Spring, I had a dream about hope that I’ll not soon forget. It seems that I drove to the middle school where my wife teaches English and U. S. History. As I parked in the staff lot I noticed a plain box truck. I looked in its windows but saw no one inside. When I began walking toward the school entrance, I realized that the truck driver was me! In my arms were several boxes, each one had the word “HOPE” written on it. 1 of the secretaries opened the office door and saw what I carried. Skeptically, she looked inside the top-most box and then shook it. Then she angrily asked why I was deceiving her with empty boxes? I replied, “They’re not empty, they are full of hope. Hope is free and it’s not heavy. Please, take it.” In a matter-of-act way, she said “Go back! We have no use for that in here!” Then I awoke and wrote down the dream in my journal.
Most have read or heard I Corinthians 13:13: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I think it’s fair to say that we have focused on faith and love more than we have on hope. Faith sounds exciting: it inspires us! To think that we can believe for something and then see it occur, never ceases to amaze us. Love sounds enticing: it moves us. We are filled with awe and gratitude when we read the scriptures, “God is love,” and “For God so loved the world…” but whatever happened to hope? How can we find the hidden power of hope?
“Hope is better than you think it is.”
It seems that many people think of hope as a wish and therefore do not take it seriously. After all, a wish is to want something you don’t have or that hasn’t yet occurred. It’s common to say things like, I wish they would get here, I wish you felt better, or I wish I had a better car, and so on. To many, it’s nothing more than talk so it lacks the weight of reality. It appears to be an empty box because it has no substance. However, substance is the work of faith: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for...” Hope is better than you may think it is; and it is not an empty box. The Greek word for hope that was used in Hebrews 11:1, means to expect, to hope (for).” Hope is full of expectation. In the Merriam-Webster Dictionary we find a similar definition: “to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment.” It is a fact that faith needs hope.
True Hope vs False Hope
There is such a thing as false hope. It is based on a faulty premise and an untrustworthy provider. The quotes from Shawshank Redemption and Downton Abbey in my opening paragraph are expressions of it. Even in the Bible we find, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” That’s true if it’s regarded in an unspiritual way. That’s because hope is a spiritual blessing; a grace. It is not foolish to hope for something if we are assured that the giver is reliable. Because we know the nature of God is goodness, generosity, and love, then it’s not difficult to hope with an expectation. We’ve experienced His goodness before and we will again. Don’t give up hope. You can uncover the hidden power of hope. True hope gives your faith something to stand on so that you can reach higher, and believe God for greater things.
“Uncertainty is the Enemy of Hope”
Many of us are plagued with various insecurities. They can interfere with relationships, opportunities, and goals. Insecurity threatens our spiritual senses with a feelings of uncertainty. We say things like: I’m just not sure if it’s the right thing; I don’t feel like I’m worthy: and I’m not sure God wants to answer my prayer. Such thoughts remind us that uncertainty is the enemy of hope. If hope is an expectation or an assurance, then thoughts of uncertainty are a hindrance. But what should be done to uncover the hidden power of hope?
- Remember that God is on your side: I like to read the Amplified Version of Hebrews 13:5: “He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!”
- Encourage yourself: (I Samuel 30:6) “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.
- Praise God in the times of uncertainty: “Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness…Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150:1,2,6 NIV).
Hope in Christ
At Christmas, we remember that the birth of our savior Jesus Christ is God’s gift of hope. Luke recorded what hope looked like to the shepherds watching their flocks:
”An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:9-14 NIV).