Do We Undermine Our Hope?

Tis’ the season of hope. But is it possible to hope wrong? Pop culture definitely has an opinion on what hope is and so do Christ followers. But are they different?  And if we have hope, is it possible to undermine it? These are important questions to answer if hope is “the whole glory of the Christian vocation.” I invite you to read, join the conversation, and engage others by sharing. www.shellytiffin.com #hope #Christianity #devotions

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Take a trip back in time with me. The year was 2005. I was 26 years old and 8.5 months pregnant with our second child. My husband was about to graduate from seminary, and we had no prospects for a job after that.

An excerpt from my prayer journal at the time reads: Lord, I confess that while my hope is in you, I often doubt you have anything planned for our future.

Christ follower or not, I think this is a real picture of what hope often looks like for most.

Everything inside us wants to hope, wants to believe, yet we doubt.

Why is that?

I think it depends on the kind of hope we have.

The key components of hope are desire and expectation. If one is missing, we are only left with the other. (Click to Tweet). However, when we put these two together, we get what is referred to as an “archaic” definition: trust.

The problem is that I use the word hope just as nonchalantly as I do the word love sometimes.

One example is the phrase “I hope so.”

What do we mean by that?

I don’t know about you, but most likely 90% of the time I say it, it really means “I’d really like that to happen” whether I believe it will or not.

Hope is What We Crave!

Not only is that a great line from a song, but its truth.

Christ follower or not, it’s hard to argue against the obviousness of this world’s desperation for hope.

According to pop culture and its memes, hope is the thing we should always have and never lose because it anchors the soul, conquers fears, and enables dreams. And while correct, they do not know hope like Christ followers know hope, or at least should.

How I Undermine My Hope

As Christ followers, we must be wary. When the Bible refers to hope, it is either referring to Christ himself, who is the “hope of our salvation,” or it is being used as expectation of what is sure (Strong’s Greek Concordance #1680).

When I use the word “hope” for something, when I simply desire for it to happen but am not expectant will, I am setting myself up to not only be disappointed but to be in a position to easily blame God for the disappointment.

There are many times my “hopes” have been crushed in this life. But, in doing some serious reflecting, I believe those “hopes” were merely desires or wants. And, because I kept “hoping” and those things didn’t come through, I truly undermined my own ability to hope correctly.

I mean it’s hard to be expectant, especially with your desires, when you feel like every time you have, nothing has worked out.

But is that God’s fault? Or, is it just easier to blame Him than to accept that our “hope” was not in Him or His will but in that of our own.

In 2005, I was “hoping” for a church for my husband, but my desire was that he’d have a job to support us. And, now even reflecting further, I can say my desire was truly that we would be well provided for and not have to live on a normal pastor’s income.

I sure knew the right words to pray though.

From the same prayer journal entry: Thank you for speaking to me yesterday with Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper not to harm, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Lord I lift up verses 12-13 to you as well. “Then, you will call upon me and come to me and pray and I will listen to you.” This is what I am doing. I claim this promise. Listen to my heart Lord. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord.” … Lord I have hope ” a confident expectation” in you and what you’ve been preparing for us to do.

The problem is the very next day after hearing from a church I was “hoping” for I wrote: I want to trust you and keep hoping in you, I just confess I might be looking for you to do something too big and that I’m going to be disappointed.

Today, I can’t believe that I wrote that I was looking for something too big from God. But up to the point of writing that, my hope had been based on what I felt God had done or not done for me.

All I could count were the disappointments, the being raised in two homes, the abuse, the church “betrayals”, the lack of the kind of life I wanted. I felt God had kicked me to the curb and had not answered any of my prayers. So,why should I have expected anything more from God? How was I supposed to be hopeful?

What’s the Problem?

My crushed hopes were merely betrayals of trust and unfulfilled desires.

This is where many of us allow ourselves to stay. If we base our hope on the evidence of things seen, we will never be able to live by faith.

Why?

Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:11

And as stated in last week’s post (What is Hope?), hope is the precursor to faith.

Not only that…

But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Romans 8:24

I’m guilty! I still get caught in this trap on occasion. And it happens when my “hopes” are not rooted in Christ himself or His will for my own life. Then, when my desire turns to disappointment I place it under the list of reasons to not be hopeful anymore.

It’s a trap the enemy uses to keep us from truly being able to be a beacon of hope to many around us. It’s just another way we begin to blend in with everyone else who carries the baggage of crushed hopes around with them everywhere they go.

And over time, we, beacons of hope, who are supposed to be illuminating a well-lit path for others to follow, are enveloped by the clouds of disappointment and discouragement, leaving others to be consumed by the darkness.

Tis’ the season of hope. But is it possible to hope wrong? Pop culture definitely has an opinion on what hope is and so do Christ followers. But are they different?  And if we have hope, is it possible to undermine it? These are important questions to answer if hope is “the whole glory of the Christian vocation.” I invite you to read, join the conversation, and engage others by sharing. www.shellytiffin.com #hope #Christianity #devotions

photo credit: Wysz via photopin cc
quote credit: Shelly Tiffin

Why Must We Hope Correctly?

I love how Easton’s Bible Dictionary puts it:  “Hope is an essential and fundamental element of Christian life, so essential indeed, that, like faith and love, it can itself designate the essence of Christianity (1 Pet. 3:15; Heb. 10:23). In it the whole glory of the Christian vocation is centered (Eph. 1:18; 4:4).” Unbelievers are without this hope (Eph. 2:12; 1 Thess. 4:13).

There’s something incredibly important we can’t miss here. “In it (hope) the whole glory of the Christian vocation is centered.” (Click to Tweet

If we corrupt our hope by allowing earthly desire and disappointment to define it, we are undermine our purpose. (Click to Tweet)

It is in Him we hope, because of Him we hope, and for His glory that our hope remains. (Click to Tweet)

You know what?

Nine and half years later, my husband still doesn’t have a church, but God still answers those prayers daily.

And I hope with confident expectation because when I seek Him, He makes himself known. It is because of Hope himself that my soul is anchored, my fears are conquered, and my dreams come true.

How Do We Build Hope?

I’ll tackle that question next week AND give away a tool that I use and love to two readers since it is Christmas after all. If you don’t want to miss out, be sure to subscribe below or in the upper right hand corner.

What about you?

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  • Leave a response in the comments below. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? If you’re still not sure what to say try answering these questions:  What do you think about this? Are there other ways we undermine hope? What is the danger in not protecting the way in which we hope? 
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  • Patricia Brown

    I have made HOPE my word for 2015; yes my desires have not been fulfilled however I still HOPE that God will answer my prayer for a real connection with my daughter. Each day my answer to anyone who ask “And how are you today?’ My response has always been “Thank God He has given me another day and I hope to have a good day”.

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  • David Mike

    It’s so hard to”let go and let God”! Why do I feel like if I don’t make it happen, it won’t happen?

    • http://www.shellytiffin.com Shelly Tiffin

      I can find myself feeling that way at times too, but I really think it stems from me blaming God when things didn’t come through the way I wanted them to instead of trusting that His plan is better than mine. I was raised a doer and was indoctrinated that “God gave you a head on your shoulders so use it.” Between that and the mentality that no one was going to take care of me but me stemming from childhood abuse, learning to trust and hope have taken God being obviously visible. To this day, I still ask God for answers to prayer in the form of stories that prove it’s Him and His will.

      • David Mike

        His plan is better than mine. We pray this but saying it is different than believing it. Thanks for the reminder.

        • http://www.shellytiffin.com Shelly Tiffin

          I agree! Thanks for sharing your heart.

  • Mark Allman

    Shelly,
    I think our hope should be tied up in trust, love, and waiting. It is work to wait and harder still to wait on God in love and trust. We often wait in anger telling God he’s got his timing all messed up. I need to practice more trust in my waiting while I hope.

    • http://www.shellytiffin.com Shelly Tiffin

      I agree Mark. That’s another way we undermine our hope: impatience. Thanks for adding that.

  • livebeyondloss

    I can so relate to this sentiment, yet have never thought of it in this way before, so thank you for opening my eyes. I know what it’s like to be afraid to hope for fear of a let down, so I just didn’t hope. But, like you said, who are we to think any hope is too big for God, because if we trusted in Him completely we would know and believe no hope is too big for him. Here’s to knowing God better and understanding him more. Thank you Shelly!

    • http://www.shellytiffin.com Shelly Tiffin

      Your words are such an encouragement this morning. The spirit has been leading me in this direction for my book, so I thought I should see how others responded with a few blog posts. And yes, here’s to knowing God better and understanding him more. Thanks for stopping by.