I recently had the opportunity to speak on the topic of real hope, or “living hope” as Peter, one of Jesus’ closest followers and a primary leader of the early Christian church, described it (see 1 Peter 1:3-8). As Peter characterizes it, living hope is not circumstantial but rather rooted in something far greater: Jesus, and his death and resurrection on our behalf. Sometimes we hear that and assume it is only referring to something that will really only make a difference after we die, or “for eternity” as many say. However, the reality is eternity starts today. Living hope is a hope that impacts your life, for today and forever.
Have you ever shared something with someone only to have the words you shared challenged in your own mind only a short time later? I feel like this has been a common experience in my life. I feel a great sense of conviction about something only to encounter a circumstance that gives me pause. Maybe I am the only one, but I doubt it. This was exactly what happened after sharing on living hope.
A week or so after my talk on living hope, a number of anxiety-inducing circumstances and possibilities came to light. Without getting into specifics, the situations vary as does my level of influence on them, but they all do the same thing: they create a lack of certainty about the future. To sat it another way, they disrupt the picture I have created in my mind of what the future should look like. Ultimately, what it reveals is that I am not in complete control of the outcomes, which is something I have written about previously(Thoughts from a Control Freak).
It also reveals another important commonality: they are all circumstances, which means they are all circumstantial. While I know that is a bit repetitive, it is an important revelation. In the beginning of this post I described living hope as not being circumstantial, or based on present circumstances and their outcomes. In reflecting on the anxiety I felt, it was a “warning light” that I was putting hope in something that was never designed to provide it–in the circumstantial rather than the foundational. Putting my hope in outcomes over which I ultimately have no control is a losing proposition.
I am not saying we should not care about our circumstances, the circumstances of others, or the outcomes that are produced. I am saying that our source of hope, and byproducts such as peace, significance, and joy, is designed to be in something greater. We are created to have a living hope.
What does this have to do with creating change and impacting the lives of others, especially those in really tough places such as poverty and homelessness? I will get into this more in the next article, but I will offer to you thoughts to consider in the meantime. First, creating change and impacting others is messy and challenging. If you put your hope in the outcome of your efforts you will not last very long.
Second, the people you are impacting and influencing need a living hope. The brokenness of this world creates incredibly challenging circumstances. It is the people I have watched travel through these circumstances and choose not to give up because of their living hope that reveals its life changing power. More on this next time.
After a few days of trying to rationalize away my anxiety, I realized I needed to change my focus. I do not have complete control of the outcome of most of life’s circumstances, but I do have control of where I put my hope. I can grab onto living hope and choose to live in light of it. Today is a new day. Where will you choose to put your hope?