Hope and Change


Where does your Hope lie?

As I have traveled through life, the conversations I have been having with friends, family, and acquaintances lately have usually led to what is most on their mind. Usually, people talk about politics, relationships, health, or finances. Most conversations involve their hurt in the cases of relationships, or their struggles in the case of finances, their frustrations in the case of politics, and the struggles to find a job. As I have gotten older, I have offered my opinions and solutions less, and listened more. It is interesting that the same patterns emerge in so diverse a group of mine that includes scientists, lawyers, the homeless, retirees, and others. No matter what is on their minds, the focus is mainly on their issue, and, for some of them, what should be done about it. What I never hear when I am just listening, is any mention of their hope.

In all of the conversations with these men and women, I usually just listen and ask questions. More and more the question I am prompted to ask is, “Where does your hope lie?” In EVERY case they pause and look dumbfounded.

After thinking about it though, the person I talk to usually has a hope. For example, some have lost a loved one in a relationship and are hoping for a new one, A lot of people I listen to are looking at this presidential election for their candidate to win. The ones that lost a job hope to get one that pays well, Two have been diagnosed with cancer and they are hoping for a cure.

All these hopes are good and normal. What startles me is none of the people I have talked to expressed this hope without me prompting them.

Try this. In the next few days, engage people that know you in conversation about their life. It shouldn’t take long if you listen to hear of their biggest struggle. See if they mention the word “hope” in relationship to it. Then ask them, “Where does your hope lie?” See the look on their face, or if you are talking to them on the phone, listen to their tone.

So what is the point of all this? There is a common thread. We all suffer some degree of lack of hope. What little hope we have is immediate relief of our issue.

Patty and I are finishing a 4 year small group study in the book of Psalms. As I have been reflecting on a unifying theme to them, I see the psalmist having a lot in common with us, experiencing the same trials like the people I talk to. The issues the psalmist includes are closeness to death, persecution, loneliness, poverty, and depression to name a few. In fact, there is a whole genre of these Psalms called “laments”. One example is Psalm 22. Look at the depths that the singer (its a song) is going through.

But as for me,
I am only a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by people.

Everyone who sees me mocks me;
they gape at me with open mouths
and shake their heads at me…”

But in the end you see his ultimate hope. That is the pattern of most of these laments.

All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord;
all the families of the nations will bow in submission to the Lord.
Indeed, the kingdom belongs to the Lord;
he rules over the nations.
All the prosperous people will eat and bow down in submission.
All those who are about to go down to the grave
will bow down in submission,

along with the one who can no longer keep himself alive.
Our descendants will serve him,
and that generation will be told about the Lord.

They will come and declare his righteousness
to a people yet to be born;
indeed, he has accomplished it! “

What these Psalms have taught me these last 4 years is to have an ultimate hope in my mind, not just a short term one. A light at the end of the tunnel as it were. A hope that is sure. The Psalmist has one. It is the solid rock of the character of God. All else is sinking sand.

So what about you? Where does your hope lie? May I make a suggestion for you to look at your ultimate hope and consider mine?