What does hope look like?

I think that we can all agree that 2020 has been pretty terrible. I don’t know anyone who has not experienced some kind of disappointment or grief this year. With everything that has been going on, it’s understandable for us to be feeling depressed or anxious about the future. I have to admit that there have been many times over the past few months where I have felt lost. I’ve been at a loss for what to do or where to go next. Changing plans over and over has been stressful. I have felt afraid and hopeless.

This got me thinking – what does hope actually look like? I think a lot of us have a picture in our minds that a hopeful person is strong and positive. They aren’t nervous about anything because they are confident in their future. When setbacks happen, they are able to take them in stride and keep going without missing a beat – because they have hope. Throughout all of the mess that 2020 has brought us, they have been able to radiate positivity. This has basically been my view of hope. I have felt as though having hope makes you some kind of superhero who can conquer anything. With this perspective of hope, I could never describe myself as a “hopeful” person.

However, throughout all of this year and my own struggles, God has remained faithful. He has been working on my heart. He has been giving me a new picture of hope. He is showing me that, even in my darkest hour, there is hope. God has been revealing to me the kind of hope that He offers is much different and deeper than my previous understanding of hope. When I have been in a place where all hope seems lost, He has shown me that there is hope that only He can offer. He can bring peace that surpasses all of my understanding (Philippians 4:7). The truth is that on my own, I can’t conquer everything the world throws at me. There will be trials that knock me off my feet. There will be circumstances I won’t be able to understand or see any good in. But this doesn’t mean that I won’t be able to have hope. Hope doesn’t always look like someone who has it all together. It doesn’t look like a superhero. Most of the time, hope looks like someone who is completely broken on their own. They are utterly weak and find themselves having to lean on the Lord to be able to take another step. Having hope doesn’t mean you are indestructible – it means you have faith and trust in the One who is.

If you are where I’ve been lately, feeling like you don’t have anything to be hopeful for, I want to encourage you. First, you are not alone. I have been where you are, and there are plenty of other Christians who have struggled during this season. It’s been rough and there have been moments where I have had a lot of trouble being able to stay positive at all. I get it and I’m with you.

Secondly, none of your trials are a surprise to God. He knows everything you have been through, are currently dealing with, and what is to come. He holds your world in the palm of His hand and is in control of it all. Jesus has already overcome the world (John 16:33). We can find comfort in knowing He will never leave us. God is with you through your moments of despair and hopelessness. You can trust that He is beside you when you feel like giving up. He will carry you when you can’t lift yourself up off the floor. The Lord wants you to rely on Him. When you can’t muster up any hope, He is there to provide it for you. He can bring you the hope, peace, and joy you will never be able to find anywhere else.

I’ll end with this verse, which is on a plaque in my office that I look at every day (I am always amazed when I read the same verse over and over, and then one day it hits me in a different way – God’s word truly is alive). May you be filled with His hope today, friends.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace.” Romans 15:13