What is Hope?

Fear vs. Hope

“The only thing more powerful than fear is hope.” (President Snow in The Hunger Games)

There was a time in my life when fear controlled me. Fear over what others thought. Fear of failure. Then hope took over.

Hope that what the Bible said about Jesus was true.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith — more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire — may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:3-6)

Hope that He would bring me out of the pit.

“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40:1-3)

Hope that flourished as I returned again and again to grace and let God work in my life for His glory.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-15)

When I struggle still today and feel the pull of the pit, I remember the hope that saved me years ago. Hope always returns and encourages me.

Confident Hope

Hope has a forward focus. It is remembering what I have been through only to remember again what God has done for me. This refocuses me on what He’s going to do in my life in places, people and events where hope seems dim or even absent.

“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

A Gentle & Quiet Spirit

1 peter 3Solitude. Quiet. Silence. My soul sometimes wants to live there, literally. The Rockies or Smokies. A remote Hawaiian beach house. Even a secluded lake house in my home state of Michigan would suffice.

But that’s not where my life exists. It exists taxiing busy teenage boys to practices, making sure the kitchen stays stocked, and making sure homework gets completed. It exists with a husband often overwhelmed by work responsibilities and needing to know his home life is quiet and stable.

The busyness of those I love seems to pull me along in life at times. I wonder my place, not just as a mom and wife but as a Christian wanting to please God.

At times, my place in this busyness feels insignificant in comparison. They live lives of activity and relationships and growth while I wait for them to need me.

Atmosphere of the Inner Self

I’ve been a working mother and a stay-at-home mother, and in both scenarios wondered how to be an individual. Seems that many wives and mothers struggle with wanting unique identities but know their identities lie wrapped up in the lives of their families.

For me, this struggle came through a focus on accomplishments rather than on who I was as a person, or rather, than on the atmosphere that enfolded out of my inner self. Scripture encourages me to be known for “the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4). In fact, it tells me this is “precious” to God.

Creating an atmosphere that comes out of a “gentle and quiet spirit” allows for a place of stability and consistency that my busy family needs. It provides a place of peace and quiet along with gentleness that contrasts so heavily with the noise, clutter and brashness of our culture.

Hidden & Imperishable

Some days, as hard as I try, my spirit is anything but gentle and quiet. Instead, feelings of frustration and being overlooked consume my thoughts. My family finds a moody and downright grumpy atmosphere, and home becomes the least helpful place for them to relax and escape from outside pressures.

On these days, the deep cry of my heart becomes, “Oh Holy Spirit, I need you to transform my inner spirit, so that my home can exist as a place of refuge and strength for my family.”

A deeper look at 1 Peter 3:4 reveals two qualities that must also exist in order for a “gentle and quiet spirit” to have staying power, to be more than just an occasional good day when I don’t constantly react and snap and scowl.

  1. Hidden. Hiding something takes effort while reacting happens all too easily. Take the time to hide a “gentle and quiet spirit” deep within by developing a Discipline of Silence and by constantly returning to the Lord where “quietness and confidence” brings strength (Isaiah 30:15).
  2. Imperishable. Creating that which lasts also takes effort, while the perishable remains instantly available. While the physical has some value (1 Timothy 4:8), focus on increasing the fruits of the spirit grows the imperishable nature of that “gentle and quiet spirit” and provides a safe atmosphere of mercy and grace.

A life changing toward gentleness speaks loudly to growing kids who need stability and consistency as life screams at them to compete and stretch and grow. An atmosphere of quiet strength gives a stressed-out spouse space to live without expectations of productivity and attention.

A quiet and consistent faith not only provides a family with a safe atmosphere for processing life, but it also shows Christ in a way they probably can’t see while out in the world. And that, truly, is a sight precious to God.

DISCUSSION: Comment on the role of “a gentle and quiet spirit” for Christians in general, regardless of gender or age.