Defining Hope

The first definition of hope in the dictionary is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” When I think of hope, this is the definition I accept and think of most. It is certainly true during Advent, as we look forward to the coming of the Christ, both back then and in the future.

Today, however, it is the second definition which caught my attention. It says hope is “a feeling of trust.” This takes the meaning from being circumstantial, an expectation for a certain thing to happen, to a confidence that it will. Hope is more than what we see or feel. It is more than our expectation of how something will go. We all know expectations can be dashed. Especially when what we expected doesn’t come to pass in the way we thought it would.

For example, the disciples thought they were going to change the world. They did. Just not in the way they had imagined. There was no rising up or taking over. No revolution. No overthrowing the government. It was a different kind of kingdom, born of the spirit, not of this world and they were totally blind to it.

First, they ran and hid. Not exactly a hopeful place to be. The truth of their miscalculation was exposed and their expectations were crushed. Yet, once they came together, their perspective changed. They had no idea of how circumstances were going to go, but they trusted it was all going to work out. They found a new and different kind of hope in the midst of their hiding place. Blind hope. Not seeing, but trusting anyway. A knowing that was deep and without words. Not an emotion…but a gut “feeling” it was going to work out no matter what.

This hope started as a seed. Planted deep. Unbeknownst to them while they were in fear and hiding in darkness, the seed was taking root. It dug deep into the soil of their doubts, putting down foundations which wouldn’t be shaken in the days to come. Only God can use fear and doubt to feed hope. This baby sprout grew into confidence which grew into boldness. Only then did they change the world, not with political power, but with martyrdom.

Trust is at a minimum these days. There is great fear. The darkness seems to be thickening. But hope is the fuel of trust. Hope that no matter what we see and hear there is an unnamed feeling born out of our doubt. This feeling rising in our gut is hope. Even when we can’t see, it is growing within us. Blind hope is what Advent is all about.

Do not let fear overcome you. Do not hide. Pay attention to what I have planted inside of you. Let the seed of hope grow, even when there is darkness in your life. Allow me to feed your hope with your sorrow. Let me nourish it with your doubts. I promise, this hope will be strong and continue to grow. It will rise up as a gut feeling when you need it. You will trust beyond trust and hold onto this feeling which says, no matter what happens, things are going to be okay. Even when you cannot see how, you will know. Deep in your spirit, you will feel trust. I am trustworthy, Dear One. You may not trust in anything else, but you can trust in me. I am solid. I am not of this world, so do not set your expectations for me to act like it. My kingdom is not easily seen, unless you look through the eyes of hope.  

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