grateful amazement

finding wonder…everywhere.

Living IN Hope

on June 25, 2014

Lately, lots of things in my life have begun coming apart at the seams.

Some days, it’s seemed that there have been attacks on all fronts
…and I even texted these words to the Mister the other day: ‘I can’t even think about about hope. I have none…and I don’t have any fight left.’

And then I was gently reminded by a new friend that sometimes our most powerful testimony is when we bravely let it be known that we don’t have it All Figured Out.
That it’s okay to be honest about our struggles.
‘Because,’ she wisely said, ‘don’t we all struggle?’
When we are willing to dialogue about it, to show how we’re simply clinging to God’s promises in spite of our doubts, maybe we give others permission to speak, to admit, to do the same.

We can bravely practice living IN hope.

For me, living IN hope is a very different thing than living WITH hope.
Not that I think one is better than the other…or that one is right and one is wrong…I think there is a place for both IN and WITH.
I just think they are very different words.

Jesus’ words recorded in The Message version of John 15:4 say ‘Live IN me. Make your home IN me just as I do IN you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.’ [emphasis mine]

IN, to me, is different than WITH because IN is more INtimate.
It’s the difference between living IN relationship with someone versus living WITH them.
The difference between living as a family and living as roommates.

When I say I want to learn to live IN hope, I mean that I want to be intimate with it.
To be in close relationship with it.
To spend time getting to know it.
To live like someone who INhabits it.

And, IN all of that, there has to be a realistic approach to it.
Because, when we are IN relationship with someone – or someTHING like Hope – things are not always going to go smoothly.
Things about it may be hard to understand or grasp at times.
Things might not always feel so hope-full.

But that doesn’t mean we’re not living IN hope.
It might actually mean the opposite…because when we are living IN hope, we are grappling with Big Stuff.
I believe God uses that grappling, that wrestling, that stretching to produce in us strength to live IN the hope to which He’s called us.

In our grappling, we often wonder, ‘Where is there room for my grief? What do I do with my raging fears? How do I face what is unknown?’

We’ve likely all entertained these important questions…whether or not we’ve felt ‘allowed’ to acknowledge or express them.
They demand answers on some level.
It seems to me that when we allow ourselves to release the responsibility of being uber-positive and grant ourselves permission to feel ALL of our feelings – even the ones that don’t look or feel particularly hope-like – we are honoring the process God is using to refine and strengthen our faith, which in turn leads to living IN hope.

The purposes of the sufferings we each have faced are alluded to in Romans 5:3-5 when Paul assures us with these words: ‘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.’

I said to the Mister recently that I think hope can still be hope even if it has tears in its eyes.

John Piper exhorts, in his 2013 message Do Not Lose Heart, to ‘… take these truths and day by day focus on them. Preach them to yourself every morning. Get alone with God and preach his word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for.’’ That speaks so strongly to me of what it means, what it looks like, to live IN hope. Actually, in all that he says in this message, I never once hear him say that we should slap a smiley face on ANY of the hard things we find ourselves facing – whether that’s cancer or slander or death or some other thing that qualifies as an affliction – but that we ought to face them and sift them through the Truth found in God’s word…for it is then that we find them meaningFUL instead of meaningLESS.

Living IN hope looks like preaching to ourselves what we know is true even when our heart doesn’t always seem to get the memo right away.
Our hope will sometimes have tears in its eyes.
And, that’s okay.
As long as we’re committed to living IN hope, the One who collects our tears and records each one in His book knows how hard holding hope can be sometimes.

Being honest with ourselves and with our God and with those who love us is one of the most hope-full things we can do.
And, sometimes, that means giving voice – giving room – to the darker emotions we have.

I have found that a side benefit of being honest about my feelings is that it gives others permission to express their own pain, fear, worry, grieving, and even anger in a way that’s vulnerable and transparent and, ultimately, helpful.

CS Lewis’ quote has come to mean so much to me in my journey – and it speaks to this sharing of ALL of our feelings: ‘Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”’

When we live IN hope, there is a freedom that comes with it.
A freedom that makes the risk of sharing openly feel less fraught with danger.
We find ourselves saying, ‘What! You too?’
And what a gift. What a beautiful gift that is.

Living IN hope also looks like recognizing that God makes all things beautiful.
According to His definition, His timing, His plan.

When we live IN hope, we can help ourselves, and each other, to reframe our circumstances – no matter how confusing or painful or shattering they may be – and ask God for the eyes to see them as raw material for Him to take them and make something beautiful. This song really helps me get this message past my head and into my heart on days when all I feel like is a pile of dust that will surely be scattered by the next breeze that happens to blow:

Looking for, or even creating, beauty is a way for us to live IN hope.
And there are so many, many places and ways we can find it.
It’s like God knew that we’d need these reminders…reminders of His promises to redeem the lost, the broken, the taken, the busted, the battered, the bruised, the damaged, the diseased.
It is, however, our job to look for them.
It is even our job to help each other find them.
And what is beautiful to each of us may look different…in fact, I’m sure what speaks hope to each of is as unique as we are.
You know what? There is even beauty in that…in our differences.
Personally, I’m so grateful for things like music, books, nature, friends, prayer, celebrations, tears, art, even good food, movies, and good theater popcorn.
The beauty – and delight – in all of those things helps me to remember to practice living IN hope.

And, friends, it is a practice.
We’re not going to get it right every day in every situation.
I love what author Lysa TerKeurst says about a grace-filled way to view our sometimes stumbling way forward…she calls it imperfect progress.
Isn’t that freeing?
To view our bumbling, sometimes two-steps-forward-one-step-back limping along as progress? As imperfect as it is?

Living IN hope.
There is grace there.
There is honesty there.
There is peace there.
Because when we’re living IN hope, we’re really living IN Christ.
And, in Him, there is no fear, no lack, no condemnation.

{Linking up with Holley Gerth and Jennifer Dukes Lee today, IN hope that you’ll click through and find the beauty and grace you need today.}


6 responses to “Living IN Hope

  1. welcomesue says:

    So right– living in hope is different than living with hope because of the in Him part. I will share this w/ a friend who needs reminding – thanks for your post – i linked up next to you at Holley’s coffee this morning – bless you and you Mister (mine’s called Man-in-Plaid, for obvious wardrobe propensities.) (: sue

  2. holleygerth says:

    Wow, this is such a powerful perspective. I needed to hear this today, friend. Linking to you in my sidebar…

  3. elisehurd says:

    Laura — I write this only as an affirmation and confirmation: Love has come for you.

    You belong to Him and it is such a beautiful witness to testify “Hope!” through tears.

    Absolutely beautiful — you.

    Thank you for sharing!

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