Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Lesson in Hope

This morning, we are headed to my doctor to have my first ultrasound since the surgery and discuss our next course of treatment. We don't have to leave until 9:30, so my hub is catching up on his sleep, and I'm getting a few moments to pray and read.

I read Psalms 4-6, and once again I am amazed by the mystery of Scripture. How does Scripture speak so appropriately to each of us in the very moment we need? I am sure I've read these Psalms before, but I have never noticed the emphasis on hope.

Psalm 4 begins with David saying, "When I called upon Thee, O God of my righteousness, Thou didst hearken unto me." David recognizes in these first verses that God has heard Him and God has saved Him. Later he then says, "Sacrifice a sacrifice of righteousness, and hope in the Lord. Many say: Who will show unto us good things? The light of Thy countenance, O Lord, hath been signed upon us; Thou hast given gladness to my heart." He ends the Psalm with this: "For Thou, O Lord, alone hast made me to dwell in hope."

Psalm 5 continues in the theme of trusting and hoping in the Lord. David contrasts the man who is hated by the Lord with the man who is shown mercy by the Lord. David says, "And let all them be glad that hope in Thee; they shall ever rejoice, and Thou shalt dwell among them. And all shall glory in Thee that love Thy Name, for Thou shalt bless the righteous."

Psalm 6 seems to begin with a different emphasis, but really it is simply David in his weakness crying out for the Lord to save Him. Again. By the end of the Psalm, he again knows God has saved him and heard him: "The Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord hath heard my supplication, the Lord hath received my prayer. Let all mine enemies be greatly put to shame and be troubled, let them be turned back, and speedily be greatly put to shame."

I said these psalms were mysteriously appropriate to me this morning, and this is why: I have been thinking a lot about hope. I've been asking God how I am supposed to do this thing called "hope" - how do I have hope about a baby when I know that there is the possibility that it may not happen? How do I live in hope of a future when plenty of women have remained infertile after these treatments?

These verses reminded me of something. I hope in the Lord. My hope is not in a baby or in an outcome. We are unlike the world because our hope is unlike the world's. We hope only in one thing -- the Lord. And about the Lord we know this: He is good. He makes us righteous. He never leads us to evil. He never troubles us. He never leads us to shame.

When I begin to hope in an outcome, I begin to temper my hope because I don't want to be let down. Hoping in an outcome always has the possibility that we will be disappointed. The beautiful thing about hoping in the Lord is it doesn't have to be tempered with reality or lessened with caution. God will never let me down. He will only lead me to good. He will only lead me to righteousness.

And so I hope in the Lord and only in the Lord. I know He has brought me to the place I am today. I know He has guided each of my steps and has loved me and refined me as I've walked in them. I know He is with me this morning, will be with me at the office, and will continue to be with me every day of my life. And I know He only has plans for good, not evil, and never shame.

For thou, O Lord, alone hast made me to dwell in hope.


  1. I see you are putting your psalter to use. ;-)
    I love that you put a finer point on what it is to hope. I remember us talking a while about how it is not foolish to hope even though it feels so sometimes. But I think the proper way to say that is that it is not foolish to hope in the Lord even when it feels foolish to do so.

  2. Ha, yes Kelly, the Psalter is being used, although not as often as it should be, I'm sure.

    Yeah, I think this whole understanding of hope is a continual process for me, for Christians in general. But today felt like a breakthrough, and I felt like I could finally get my mind around what it means to "hope in the Lord" even though at times it may feel foolish to do that, like when I've had another disappointing day. But God is good. That's where my hope lies - in who He is.