Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Character of Hope

I lay on my right side. The spinning, buzzing of my hyper-manic mind still wreaks havoc in my waking and especially my sleeping. I am curled like a little child, hands under my cheek, eyes on him.

My beloved speaks slow and strong the words of the psalms. I let my eyes close, the honest cries and unbridled faith in the goodness of God wash over me. Everything stills--my spirit, my mind, my body. Sweet sleep like a golden waterfall pours over me.

This blessed rest only lasts a few minutes. But when I awake, I find I have gained something tangible. It's a living thing, though vulnerable, yet real. Fragile yet mine. Vast yet here. Shockingly mundane yet glorious.

It's hope.

Hope is foundational to our very existence. Without it, our spirits die. We have to believe somehow, some way there is something better, greater coming. We have to believe we are more than our tragedies. We have to believe our story is worth a complete and full ending.

Yet hope comes to us tiny and frail. It's life in us is dependent on our thoughts, our words, our actions, our emotions. Hope is vulnerable to the very heart of us, its bearers.

In the mental ward of Szent Imre Kórház hope surprised me. It came after all I had lost, all I had suffered. It came to me naked and tender and asked my quivering soul to believe it was real. It came to reach into my heart and plant its seed. It came with its own hope waiting to be born.
Since those days, I have been looking for hope to bloom. I have been worried that it won't. It is a tenuous blend of strong and weak. How can the vulnerable really rise triumphantly?

In the moments of rest in the mental ward, in those who-am-I, what-am-I, why-am-I days, it was the words of God making this true:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

I Peter 1:3-9 (emphasis mine)

These words were soaking into my bones. They met my vulnerability with their own clear strength. They ignited hope. They caused me to rest in their perfection.

And so is the beautiful character of hope. It finds us in the most unlikely of places and offers itself as the thing we most need. It pulls us into things unseen and says promises are real. Hope does not disappoint, especially when this broken world does. 

And if it doesn't bloom when or where or how we plan, it must not be uprooted. Hope has its perfect plan and will make itself known at just the right time and in just the right way.

I have not seen those seeds of my hospital stay bloom. There have been hints, yet what I most desire still lies ahead. And too, this tender shoot keeps rising up strong, urging me forward. 

It is the formidable, the epitome of resilience, the surety of a strong tower, the very truth of God.


Let's lift it up together and maybe we can all learn to trust again. In God. In Jesus. In the Heaven which wants to come to earth. In the audacity which says all of the goodness forming our truest and wildest dreams is real, because we have found it and will not let it go.


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