After writing my brief blog this morning, I have spent the day considering several aspects of my life, and how they relate to my hope. I’ve noticed that I am extremely affected by any sudden change in plans, no matter what the cause. A minor disappointment can momentarily send me into a deep sadness, which I know is an over reaction, and still continue to feel. Every time this happens, it takes me anywhere between fifteen minutes and a day to return to my normal state of mind. Why is this? Why can tiny disappointments, which should have little to no effect on my attitude, ruin my whole day?
It’s because of where I’ve placed my hope. As Christians, we are taught to put our hope in Jesus. We are told not to put our hope in the things of this world, because the things of this world are imperfect. And we always agree and yet we always fail. Even though I know my hope should be in the Lord, I can’t help but put it in earthly dead ends. These dead ends are different for everybody, and I know I have several. So I ask again…where do you put your hope? By this I mean where do you look for your fulfillment? Where do you seek approval? What are you counting on to make you happy?
I put my hope in people. My expectations of others are often unattainable, and when people inevitably fail to reach those expectations, I am disillusioned. I put my hope in my education and my job. The more education I get, the better job I can get, and the more my life will suddenly have a meaning and a purpose. I put my hope in my performance. The better I am at something (job, music, cooking…) the more successful I am, and somewhere in my life I have associated success with happiness. I put my hope in my future, saying “when I do this” and “when I get this” I will be happy, rather than looking at my life as it is right now. And worst of all, I put my hope in myself. Saying, “I’ll take care of this on my own. I can fix this.” is the most painful expectation I have.
There is so much more that I do not even notice in my life. And it is easy to see how all of these places can lead to a big old fashioned let down. What happens when a date gets canceled? A friend lets you down? A meal gets burned? A job is boring? What about when I fail? Depression.
But what happens when God let’s you down? He doesn’t. Wait, let me rephrase that, because we often feel like He does. When things go wrong in our life, we blame Him. We yell and scream when loved ones die, lose jobs, lose homes, face disappointment. But these are the times that if we really listen closely, we realize He’s there, helping us through. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11. The Lord has plans for me. This is a crazy thing to wrap my thoughts around. This is why He asks us to put our hope in HIM, because He knows what He’s doing.
As humans, we are imperfect, and so is everyone else we know. We live in a horribly messed up world. Therefore it is fairly easy to be let down by almost anything we count on. But when we find our identity in Jesus, and place our hope in His plans for our future, we have something to hold on to through all the disappointment, and rejoice in through all the happiness. I am talking about a hope that is not just a ticket into heaven, but rather a guiding light in the life we lead on earth, that is to be shared in love with those around us.