That thing called HOPE.

“True hope is always hard. Is it not passive wishing. It is an active exercise, a choice, an intention. Hope means giving up apathy and despair and embracing the uncertainty that terrifies you. It is the sacrifice of keeping your heart soft.” {Jena Lee Nardella, One Thousand Wells}

How can we find beauty in a world that is so broken? How can we see the image of God in a person that is so mean? How can we seek love when relationships are so temporary? Oh, that thing called hope.

The truth is we live in a world that can  be downright brutal and scary. It’s unfair and cruel. And as we stair in the face of such unfairness,  how often do we toss around the word “hope” like a positive, spiritual bandaid that will hold our crumbling lives together. Or even more, we use it as a half-heated wish that things will get better soon. For some reason it doesn’t quite do the trick…

But what if we are viewing hope all wrong? A few days ago, I was reading One Thousand Wells by Jena Lee Nardella and I was captivated by the way she explained hope. (See quote above) Jena writes this as she reflects on her often unrewarded and unsuccessful attempts at bringing clean drinking water to suffering communities in Africa. She talks about how selfishness, corruption, disease, and natural disasters would get in the way of her efforts to do good. She talks about loosing hope, wanting to give up, and then finding hope again in a whole new form. Hope that is hard. Hope that acts. Hope that is scary. Hope that hurts.

As I reflect on this kind of hope and how it applies to my own life, I think of what a wonderully difficuly change in mindset this could be. What if I chose hope as an action, and tried to explain verb conjugations one more time to that struggling student? What if I chose a hope that scared me, and went for a job that challenges me in every way? What if I choose to let hope hurt, and I love the other even when it’s messy, painful and hard?

That is true hope. That is powerful hope. That is a hope that’s worth having, because that is a hope that makes a broken world with struggling people a place of beauty.