I have a dear friend lying in a hospital bed battling for every breath. Cystic fibrosis has robbed him, at the age of forty-two, of the ability to breathe on his own. I HOPE he doesn’t die…but he’s probably going to pretty soon. He’s fought valiantly, and I HOPE God will turn it around.
I have two kids, a six-year old son and a four-year old daughter. I HOPE they grow up into healthy, smart, well-adjusted, God-loving adults. I HOPE that they choose life-giving relationships in friends and partners.
I have a wife who is awesome. I HOPE we grow really old together and love each other fiercely until we die.
I run a ministry. I HOPE it makes an impact in the lives of people.
I run a business. I HOPE it is profitable.
And I don’t know if any of it will come to pass.
I am sad that my friend is dying. I am nervous that my kids will be affected by the brokenness of our world, and especially my own in such a way that it interferes with what I HOPE for them. I am sometimes unsure of my lovableness (is that a word?) and try hard to prove myself to be worthy of my wife’s awesomeness. I guess, we should call that insecurity.
Most days I would much rather have assurances than hope. Guaranteed outcomes that involve the least amount of pain or even discomfort. And I’m not even going to try to tell you that what I really want is HOPE in the uncertainty.
I want certainty.
But I am not going to get it. Neither are you. That’s not the way this big fat gamble of life and love that is our existence works.
God told stories and made promises. Most of them we’ve been mis-taught for generations. We’ve been told if we do this then God will do that and life will be good, or at least better. His promises though seem to be not about outcomes, at least as we understand them, but rather about his presence in the midst of all these unfolding stories that I/we HOPE turn out alright. They seem to be about his care and comfort while we hold on to our ragged tatters of hope.
And it seems to help. It seems to heal. It seems to hold. So far at least…and as for the future…I HOPE it will then too.