What does hope look like?

by Vickie Watson, Community Relations Specialist

As I sat in staff meeting one day, recently, listening to a note that had been written by a family we had served, the Holy Spirit dropped this question into my heart, “What does hope look like?”  For each of us, in our everyday walk with the Lord, hope has a different meaning.  However, when life’s storms hit – a rebellious teenager, the loss of a job, the declining health of an elderly parent, or the death of a significant loved one – hope may take on a different meaning.  What does hope look like?  How can we find it in the midst of our struggles or grief?

I am a researcher, of sorts.  I have an analytical mind.  I do not take things at face-value.  I always want to look at things from different perspectives and see where I find meaning or connection.  So, as I began to think about what hope looks like, I decided to look up the definition of the word.  I have to say, I was sort of disappointed because none of the definitions I found really seemed to capture the essence of how I view hope.  Various definitions were:

  • the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best
  • a particular instance of this feeling
  • grounds for this feeling in a particular instance
  • a person or thing in which expectations are centered
  • something that is hoped for
  • to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence
  • to believe, desire, or trust
  • to feel that something desired may happen

What I found to be more appropriate for my purposes was what was referred to as an archaic definition, “to place trust; rely” or, the meaning of the idiom – hope against hope – which means “to continue to hope, although the outlook does not warrant it.”  But better still is how a Christian might define hope, “a strong and confident expectation.”  Hope is a firm assurance regarding things that are unclear and unknown.

What I am learning is that hope is discovered in the journey.  It may be a small pinhole piercing a great deal of darkness.  But whatever light shines through and penetrates the darkness becomes the bright spot of hope that we cling to in a moment of despair and/or grief.  It might be redefining your expectations day by day or even moment by moment.  Hope, for a moment, may be seeing a smile, sharing a hug, or hearing “I love you” one last time.  Whatever hope may look like in that moment, may we all learn to embrace it – and if even for a brief moment, allow it to pierce the darkness.  I think Desmond Tutu said it best, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

LORD, sustain me as you promised, that I may live! Do not let my hope be crushed. – Psalm 119:116