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I Hope

Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope!  Hold me up, that I may be safe and have regard for your statutes continually!  Psalm 119:116-117

Hope is such a vulnerable act.  Hope exposes raw places in our hearts, fragile nerves easily wounded.  Not all of my hopes are noble and righteous, many are not.  But my hopes confess the most honest desires, beliefs and perspectives by which I live.  When my hopes are shamed, I am most easily attracted to dishonesty, self-protection, cynicism and hardness.  Dishonesty about what I value is easier than disappointment.  Self-protection is obviously more appealing than “offering the other cheek”.  Cynicism makes me untouchable, or so I can be persuaded.  And hardness of heart is the result of this cocktail of responses.

What the psalmist here is pleading is that God would not let him drown but instead, would uphold him.  I want God’s promises to be true and I want my trust in them to be proven right.

Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.  Psalm 33:22

My hope is supposed to be in God, in the surety of His redemptive and glorious plans being accomplished without any hiccups.  My hope ought to be founded on the certainty that God is good all the time and that His plans are to prosper and not to harm.  My hope is meant to be based upon trust in His knowledge of true prosperity of my soul rather than some anemic material version I may concoct.

But often, I place my hope in particular ways in which I want these things to be evidenced.  In reality, my hope is placed in the response of others, in communication, collaboration and the immediate rather than the slow cooker transformation that is making all things gloriously new, even me.

I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’  Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.  ‘Hear, and I will speak;  I will question you, and you make it known to me.’   I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,  but now my eye sees you;  Job 42:2-5

I lean too willingly on my own understanding and am slow to trust what I cannot see.  A phone call from a friend this morning brought this reality rushing into view.  As I heard of God’s lavish and nurturing answer to their long suffering, it was more than could have been asked or imagined.  God is faithful and kind, never forgetting the goal of the stories He is writing as He tells His Great Story to and through our lives.  He never forsakes and His love never fails.

Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.   For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name;  and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.  For the Lord has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God.  For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you.  In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer.  Is. 54:4-8

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  I hope.

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