Hopeful without hope?

As I began to think about this blog, even as I sit here now typing these words, I am thinking about the idea or concept of hope. Hope is such a powerful word, it seems it can lead to incredible joy or indescribable disappointment. Just try to imagine all the things throughout history, accomplished or not accomplished from the starting point of what might be called hope. Think about our own lives. I think about my life and the times when there was an overwhelming tsunami of hope and yet at other times seemed to be little or no hope on the horizon. What causes such massive shifts in hope? Should hope be more stable?

It seems that much of our lives are tied to this concept of hope, whether we realize it or not, we all face questions connected to some form, shape or type of hope/hoped/hoping/hopeful/hopefully – you get the point. None of us are immune from these questions or concerns, not even our age, sexuality, career choice, ethnicity, income, marital status, religious preference (or lack thereof) preclude any of us from having to deal with this on a regular basis. Most are hopeful, but few have real hope. For me anyway, being optimistic and being hopeful are quite similar (the desire of a good outcome), but having real hope (Godly confidence in the future) – that’s something altogether different.

Let me take you behind the curtain for a quick tour of my brain and how I tend to think about things and see the world – PLEASE PROCEED WITH EXTREME CAUTION! OK, you’ve been warned, I hope you’re ready – get it hope.

I have been told that I’m a bit analytical, one could even say that I’m data driven. In my world, information is king because information helps me to interpret what’s happening in the world around me and how to respond to it. While on the surface that may sound well and good, beneath the surface it can create frustration, not just for me but sometimes for those around me (like my incredible wife) caught in my vortex of information, data and facts. You see, there are different types of personalities and those differing personalities all view and interpret the world around them uniquely, including their optimism/hopefulness. Examples are often a great way to communicate thoughts, so let’s give this a shot.

Karen and I often do not interpret information the same way, let me tell you people love my wife because she’s always smiling and extremely optimistic (which is a great quality), but sometimes being optimistic when the “information” would not necessarily justify that level of optimism, (in my opinion) may lead to an incorrect conclusion. On the other hand, I try to see myself as an optimistic realist, which means I tend to exercise moderate optimism (not too high, not too low), but my optimism is governed by the “information” available, the date and facts. Needless to say, Karen and I occasionally find ourselves in emotionally charged, but always cordial and loving, conversations (disagreements) over information that we are interpreting differently. It’s not that one of us is right and the other is wrong, but without proper understanding of the other persons perspective, things could escalate quickly – thankfully we have never had to face this!(Wink.)

Not long ago, through a personality profile, I discovered a personality characteristic that may be challenging for me to relate to – you guessed it – the person that is extremely optimistic despite the facts not supporting their optimism. After I finished explaining to my lovely bride my newly discovered insights into our beautifully unique personalities, she proceeded to share an event (with much optimism) and in the end shared with me how she believed that it would all soon be roses and sunshine (now I’m exaggerating a little bit). As I listened silently (but not in my head) she stopped for a moment and then looked up at me and said “…wait, I’m being optimistic when the facts surrounding don’t support that…” – We both started laughing. In all seriousness though, we can remain at peace because we can have optimism/hopefulness that is always available in the hope that is ROOTED in truth.

I don’t want to bore anyone too much, but I thought it may be helpful to come up with a working definition for “hope”, the word “hope” can be used as both a noun and a verb according to the 1828 Webster Dictionary. Here’s what the 1828 Webster Dictionary states:

HOPEnoun [Latin cupio.]

1. A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety.

 Job 8:13.

The hypocrite’s hope shall perish.

2. Confidence in a future event; the highest degree of well founded expectation of good; as a hope founded on God’s gracious promises; a scriptural sense.

A well founded scriptural hope is, in our religion, the source of ineffable happiness.

3. That which gives hope; he or that which furnishes ground of expectation, or promises desired good. The hope of Israel is the Messiah.

Joel 3:16.

The Lord will be the hope of his people.

4. An opinion or belief not amounting to certainty, but grounded on substantial evidence. The christian indulges a hope that his sins are pardoned.

HOPEverb intransitive

1. To cherish a desire of good, with some expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable.

HOPE for good success.

1 Peter 1:3.

Be sober and hope to the end.

2. To place confidence in; to trust in with confident expectation of good.

Psalms 43:5.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God.

This is free, not part of the blog – there’s a reason why I like the 1828 Webster Dictionary, I like it and recommend it because Noah Webster was a Christian and defined words based upon their use in the Bible and often included direct references to verses in the Bible. The value for us today is that some words have experienced a change in their meanings over the years. So, what a word is understood today may not accurately reflect the authors intended meaning at the time of the writing, which could be 100’s or even 1000’s of years in the past.

As Christ followers, we want to be optimistic or hopeful whenever possible, but true Biblical hope is a confidence that is grounded in the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross and God’s faithfulness to His Word. For our family, we witness the real struggle that exists between the confident hope available through Christ and the optimistic hopefulness attributed to the things of this world- living hopefully without hope. We all too often see people working hard to please other people, or possibly a religious leader, maybe even a religious organization, in the hope of gaining acceptance with man and/or God. As we live, labor, laugh and love with the people God has placed in our lives here in the Dominican Republic we are reminded that many are looking for real hope, even if they don’t realize it. We want to introduce people to a hope that doesn’t shift based on the circumstances of life, but rather is the stable foundation to weather the storms of life, awaiting with confidence our heavenly inheritance.

As we build relationships, we are building bridges of hope, bridges that offer something real, bridges that lead to Jesus. At Project Mañana we build bridges of hope through our six core projects (Timothy, Prison, Clean Water, Nutrition, Education & Princess), extending hope to a world that’s searching for hope. Please pray for our family and ministry, if you are partnering with us we thank you, if not we ask that you prayerfully consider joining our prayer team and becoming a monthly or annual financial partner building bridges of hope in the Dominican Republic.

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