There’s nothing quite like a birthday when you’re a child. The gifts are wrapped. The cake’s been baked. The extra icing licked off the beaters. The invitations have been sent, plans for the party have been made. Hope is the sensation that makes the heart race, the eyes that stay awake even though it’s past bedtime. The wishing that tomorrow would just arrive and then it would be the birthday!
But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. Psalm 39:7 (NIV)
“What am I doing in the meantime, Lord? Hoping, that’s what I’m doing – hoping Psalm 37:9 (MSG)
Birthdays aren’t a permanent hope giver. They offer a temporary experience of joy and delight. Once the cake is eaten, the wrapping paper put in the trash, the friends departed for home, normal takes over again.
David was desperate for hope. He’d been quiet and listened when others aired their grievances. But then he spoke because he just couldn’t contain himself. He was frustrated with his experiences, with the way life was landing around him. He desperately needed hope, something to hold onto that would provide relief from what He was going through.
Hope is defined as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen, a feeling of trust, to want something to happen or be the case. I like this definition except I know what has happened in the past when I have put my deepest hopes in people. I was often left disappointed. They could not measure up to what I had hoped they would do or be for me. It hurt.
When my hope finds its true home, when it is found in Jesus, it takes on a totally different tone. There is a surety, a certainty that accompanies that step every single time.
I would be lying to you if I said that, at times, I haven’t felt disappointed with God. I have prayed some prayers for years and have wondered if God has forgotten about them. I have given up thinking that His plan is too mysterious and couldn’t possibly understand what my life is like. Sometimes hope has felt like it is too hard, like it has been too much of an ask.
But I have been coming to understand more and more that my hope is often earth focused and lives around the norms and expectations that I see before me. I have equated hope with God answering the prayers that I have prayed. But then I limit His faithfulness to the level of answered prayers. That’s not a true reflection of my God. My God does not limit Himself to my level of hope. He knows me. He knows the future. He asks me to trust Him believing that His faithfulness and goodness, and the myriad of His other character qualities, remain true regardless of circumstance. Without Him going before me, the circumstances of my life would threaten to overwhelm me. I need hope – a hope that is eternal, a hope that is fixed on Jesus, a hope that is with me and in me right now.