You might have to be looking for it to find it, but it’s there. I heard it in two movies in a row the other night, and saw it in the preview for another. I heard it in a song on the radio. And I now see it in a tattoo on my wrist in Romanian.
Here are some of the reasons why...
One of those reasons, small as it may be, is because I come home to an empty apartment, night after night, longing to feel known and loved. I just drove home, passing hundreds of houses, filled with families inside and probably lots of love too, and all I could think was, “I wish I had that.” I know my envy is wrong. I know the life I have is enough. I know no one’s life is perfect. I know the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. But try telling my heart that, and it might just slap you back in the face with its deep desires that say otherwise.
And yet I have hope.
It doesn’t make sense. I’m not talking about hope for a spouse or a family or a cute house with a seemingly perfect life & Pinterest-inspired décor inside. But I do have hope that outlasts my longings and desires. Let me go on…
Another reason I’ve tattooed the word ‘hope’ on my wrist is this: I’ve seen countless people living with much less than I have, and I think they get it more than I do. They have more joy, and have taught me much more joy, than I could have known without them. My tattoo is in Romanian. But why Romanian? Because in the 3 times I visited Romania, I was reminded that in the midst of hopelessness, there is still hope. I visited homes made of tarp and scraps of wood filled with more bodies than can fit on the unpaved dirt floors inside, and I cannot forget. As Brooke Fraser’s song “Albertine” goes, “Now that I have seen, I am responsible.” I heard those words for the first time in a car driving down an unpaved road in a gypsy village where shack after shack was before my eyes. I know hope exists, even if sometimes it appears in a house made of scraps.
I don’t just have hope for their well-being, for real houses made of cement and siding and with cute décor inside, or even hope for just their basic needs to be met (though that is one desire I long for). My hope is for these people, the Roma people, and ALL people, to be known and loved and to know and love Christ. They are mistreated in the Romanian society and looked upon as dogs. But there is hope for them…I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and I know Him.
5 years ago, my amazing dad was taken from this earth. It was a shock to all, as he had just come home from the hospital that day, hoping to be on the road to recovery just 3 days before Christmas. He was home just in time to see his 3-year-old granddaughter, the love of his life, open her presents. And for reasons unknown, an aneurysm instead took him from our world. Too early. Too young. Too much yet to be done. Before he could ever walk me down the aisle and gain another son-in-law, he was gone.
It’s hard for most in the stages of grief to find hope. But in the case of someone who knows, or knew, Jesus, it is different. A year after my dad’s death, a friend’s grandfather passed away and I sent him a sympathy card that spoke more to me than it probably did to him: “Thankful that we do not grieve as those who have no hope.” That card has reminded me of 1 Thessalonians 4:13 many times since then, and I cannot imagine how anyone grieving the loss of a non-believer can get through life beyond that death. The only thing that gets me through this life beyond any death or trouble or hardship is this: hope. It remains.
When all else passes away, hope remains.
Lamentations 3:21-26 has been one of my favorite passages for some time now. It says this:
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
What is it we hope for? What do we wait for?
New life in Christ promises eternal life beyond death on this earth. An eternity in the presence of God. A seat at His banquet table. A mansion on streets of gold. A place where there are no more tears and there is no more pain. All these things are promised to those who have hope in Him.
And that’s why I hold onto it.
Amidst anything I could wish for in this life, any darkness I’ve seen, any loss I’ve experienced, there is nothing worth holding onto more than hope.
When you’re gasping for air, or life slithers through your hands like grains of sand, it feels like nothing is within reach. You can’t control anything, and that’s exactly the point. That’s why hope is there. You’re not meant to control it. It’s meant to control you.
Let. hope. lead.
But hold on tight, because it’s a crazy road, and it’s probably not paved.