“You need something special to give you hope…that’s what you need man, and you need it bad.”
-Bob Dylan, Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie
I have a special affinity for hope. I don’t know that I can really put my finger on exactly why. It just feels like such a powerful consideration to me…HOPE. And it doesn’t feel the same as an emotion, like happy, or sad, that may come and go, but instead, something that can really take root inside of us, like joy, and love (yeah, yeah, the greatest of these is love…I’m talking about hope). We chose it as the name for our first child, and I love it (and her).
It’s very meaningful to me. I think we all need hope.
We hear about and discuss hope in all different areas of life. In my experience, hope often exists in a state of expectation or wanting, usually for something that we desire in the future.
I hope I get that job.
I hope my kids turn out okay.
I hope everything works out for you.
I hope the weather cooperates.
We’ve probably all been there and I don’t think there is anything necessarily wrong with these hopes, but I’d like to offer another perspective.
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In the book, Duckworth states her belief in two different perspectives of hope:
There are two types of hope. One type is the expectation that tomorrow will be better than today. It’s the kind of hope that has us yearning for summer weather, or a smoother path ahead. It comes without the burden of responsibility. The onus is on the universe to make things better.
This hope (as mentioned above) operates under the assumption that there isn’t much we can do about what we are hoping for. We don’t hope our way into having good weather, or hope our way into the college of our choice, or hope hard enough for our circumstances to change. I mean, we might hope for those things, and they might come true…but the distinction for this hope is that there is no action on our part. We just hope, and sometimes pray, and then wait.
With the focus of the research and writing on “grit”, Duckworth goes on to discuss the other type of hope, as she sees it:
Grit depends on a different kind of hope. It rests on the expectation that our own efforts can improve our future. The hope that gritty people have has nothing to do with luck (or yearning) and everything to do with getting up again (and again).
Here, according to Duckworth, our hope comes from a place not of desire, but with an understanding that we (can if we choose) play a real part in the equation. From this perspective, we have hope that things are going to get better, because we know that we are going to do everything that we possibly can to make things better.
As a believer, I would assert that there is a third type of hope that blends both of Duckworth’s perspectives together. Mark Batterson has a great quote that says,
Pray like it depends on God, and work like it depends on you.
How does that sit with this beautiful hymn? It may seem contradictory…
My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.
**Remember, I’m not Biblical scholar, this just my perspective**
I think we can pray like it depends on God and work like it depends on us, because our hope is built on the sacrifice and righteousness of Jesus. We are filled with the holy spirit, not a spirit of fear, and that promise allows us to, as the Japanese proverb says,
Fall Seven, Rise Eight
Our hope, and our grit, should be increased because we know that we have been blessed with great gifts. We can believe that we are enough because He has given us more than enough. We can believe that there is power in both the Giver and the gift. And one of the greatest ways to honor the Giver, is to honor the gifts. And we don’t do that by sitting around hoping for something to happen. Whenever possible, we need to mobilize, to have boots on the ground, to live honor-ably. Living in fear, hiding our gifts, or hiding behind our hope expresses no real hope at all.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Certainly, my faith, at times, forces me to wait, be patient, and hope. Sometimes there is truly nothing we can do except trust in the faithfulness and fullness of the promises of God. We pray, and hope for the best. Sometimes it seems like that’s all there is to do. Sometimes, maybe that’s what God asks us to do.
I think we have to be careful not to use that as an excuse to sit back and wait on God to solve our problems, rescue us from all of our troubles, or carry us through all of life’s challenges.
Don’t hide behind your “hope”.
(I don’t believe) God is going to grant you admission to your dream school, give you a million dollars, or clear the path for you, just because you hope He will. Yes, he answers prayers. Yes, things work out unexpectedly some times.
The best type of hope, I think, is the kind that anchors itself to the promise and power of Jesus…AND gets busy honoring those promises by the way we live our lives. Our hope is built through our resilience. Resilience of faith and resilience in our actions. There are things that we receive, that have already been paid for, and things that we must go out and earn. And our hope can be reflected in both of these.