Defining Hope

What is hope? This word is what has been seared into my heart to the point that I made it the focus of my 2017 vision board. But what does it really mean?

The first verse that came to mind was Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see.” But that didn’t really answer my question since that verse related more to faith; and then my next thought was, “Hope is an anchor for my soul.” That helped slightly, but it still remained this vague metaphor without a concrete answer. That is when God spoke to my heart.

Hope is that deep longing inside of you—not that things be better, but that they be made right. Hope is that internal link to the perfection of creation—to perfect unity with God. It is your soul’s reminder of what was and what will be. It is that anchor to hold us steady when everything around us is turbulent and tumultuous.

Hebrews 6 (where this anchor phrase is from) is reaffirming the steadfastness of God—that despite the constant changing nature of man, the unchanging God that made an oath with Abraham so long ago is the same God we cling to today. He has never changed. He always was, is, and always will be. That is our assurance, that is what defines truth and why we can have hope in the first place.

Hope can’t help but be a futuristic idea. When all is dark, it is that voice that reminds you that without the dark you’d never be able to see the stars—the silver lining, if you will. The good despite the bad. The joy in the face of sorrow. The belief in the face of pain and despair.

There is something so powerful in hearing and seeing my daughter singing along to Hillary Scott’s song, “Thy Will.” This is the same daughter who only eight months ago, was on the receiving end of a miracle that saved her life. This is the same daughter who was not only lucky to be alive, she was lucky to not be paralyzed from the severity of the injury she sustained. This is the same daughter who had to postpone her first day of elementary school because she had just been released from the hospital and was still relearning how to get around and do everyday things that she had been doing for years. This is the same daughter who had to come face to face with her own “great” challenges such as  adjusting to literal screws in her head, to challenges as seemingly mundane as finding clothes that would actually fit around the halo that would be a part of her life for an unknown amount of time. This little girl had to deal with refusing to look in the mirror or go outside because she thought she looked “weird” with the halo. She had to hear the reality that she would never again be able to do some things like jump on a trampoline, or a bounce house, or ride the roller coasters she had only recently fallen in love with.

After all of that,  to look into my rear-view mirror and see her brace-free, strong, and confident—to hear her sweetly singing along with the words of a song filled with equal amounts of hurt and faith and hope…my words are not enough.

I know I’ve talked a little about hope here and there. I know I’ve shared pieces of our journey since the accident. I’ve tried to hang on to hope in the midst of my daughter’s challenges as well as my own residual anxiety and physical pain. I’ve tried to keep perspective on the blessings upon blessings that we have received. As a writer, I recognize the necessity of critical chapters that help launch characters into stronger roles necessary for the completion of their story. But in that moment as the song played on, I was helpless to stop the tears that began to fall down my face. I found myself taking intentional deep breaths as to not allow the emotion to transfer into my voice as my daughter asked me a question.

Y’all, I am a long way from understanding the will of God and even further from fully understanding why painful things have to happen. But I do know that time and again God said that He would use the trials for His glory. He doesn’t want us in pain. He doesn’t want us downtrodden or brokenhearted. He wants us back in the Garden. He wants to see His perfect creation in perfect unity with Him again. He wants to see our lives glorifying Him and even though He doesn’t want us to be in pain, He understands that sometimes that is what is necessary.

Do y’all get that? I don’t always. Sometimes my head gets it, but my heart still fights it. But the reality is that if I trust God when things are good, then I better trust Him when they aren’t because He hasn’t changed, only my circumstances have. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow and I can trust in His never-failing character to be there for me every step of the way. That is my hope. That is His promise. And sometimes it takes a brave little six-year-old singing along to a song to remind me of that hope, but the reminder is such a sweet kiss from heaven, I can’t help but be even more grateful.

That future is possible because of Jesus. Because of Jesus we have a future to look toward. Because of Jesus we have hope. Through His sacrifice, our eternity was reconnected to that perfect unity that was present in the garden. The hope that things will one day be made right.

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)

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