Hope: to look forward with desire and reasonable confidence

My wife hates lifting weights. While she enjoys exercising, she would quickly lament “weights are heavy”. Like so many others the events of 2020 caused a violent disturbance to professional and personal processes resulting in a chaotic imbalance to life’s routines. 

2021 would be different.  After all, it had to be; it needed to be. In a surprising and exciting move, my wife braved the throngs of “New Year, New Me” gym goers and strolled into a squat rack on the first Monday of the new year. The clock on the wall displayed a time shortly after 5am. Yuck. It was cold, and early, and busy…but she was there to lift…even if the weights were heavy.

Why does this matter? Because this small moment of walking into a difficult situation at a difficult time in a difficult season represents something many found scarce in 2020… hope.  

As we continue marching through a new year I see glimmers of hope. The pandemic hasn’t ended and sadly we have not seen the last casualty of a virus that has decimated our modern routines. We still wear masks, we still maintain a social distance, we still continue to take every careful measure to ensure the safety of those around us. And yet slowly but surely, we see vaccines being administered and testing more readily available than ever. If we choose to look, there is much hope to be found. 

Speaking of hope, listen to what Paul says in Ephesians 1:18:

  “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people”

As I meditate on this verse there are three observations on hope that I see: 

1. Hope is not unattainable.

Verse 18 marks a turning point for Paul in chapter one. While the previous seventeen verses focus on wisdom and revelation, this verse focuses on enlightenment and knowledge. It is important to Paul that his readers understand that they can live hopeful lives because of Jesus. This sets up another important observation.

2. Hope is found in following Jesus.

One of the purposes of Paul’s writing is to encourage a group of believers walking through a difficult social and political climate. Many in the church found themselves with a new way of life and were trying to make sense of it. Regardless of their occupation, family or racial background, Paul wanted his readers to fix their eyes on Jesus and his sacrificial death on the cross. Doing so allowed their hearts to be filled with hope and made life more than just manageable, but offered purpose, peace and contentment.

3. Hope is not dictated by life’s circumstances   

There is always a bigger goal. For the believer there is the promise of life in the presence of Jesus. In his presence every tear will be wiped away with no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Rev. 21:4). Living with this end in mind allows any believer to look past life’s circumstances because our best life is yet to be lived. 

What about you? Does “hopeful” describe your current view of life? If not, it could be for a number of reasons. It may be that your hope is in the wrong thing. Humans often choose to find hope in a relationship, career or particular status and may have found these thresholds tested stressed to a breaking point. After all, how do you find hope when the job of your dreams is suddenly and savagely ripped from you? 

I believe you can have hope. I believe that it’s attainable right where you are in the midst of your current condition, and I believe hope can dramatically transform your worldview…even if the weights are heavy