The arrival of spring always fills me with hope. Shocking, right? Who doesn’t feel hopeful about warmer weather, flowers, sunshine, fresh air, and all the other things that come with the change of seasons? (Despite the cold start, I’m determined to keep my optimism about this season!)
I was listening to a podcast recently that was a panel of women discussing hope. One of the panelists said that we are essentially living in the world that women of the past hoped for. By working, having the right to vote, wearing what we want, and so much more, we are the fulfillment of things hoped for by past generations. To go even farther back and expand out, we are living in a country that was viewed with hope. Hope for religious freedom without persecution. Hope of making a new life.
This got me thinking about the concept of hope, and how hope is so closely entwined in the Lenten and Easter season for me. I go through Lent, giving up things and prioritizing in the hope that it will lead me closer to God. So much of relationship with God is hope. Hoping that the things we are planting now, relationships and education, will yield a harvest.
I see hope when I interact with the children at Trinity in Sunday School, Wednesday evenings, and any other event. I am putting my hope in the next generation that they will continue to build upon the foundation of the history of hope. The 172 years of hope that Trinity English has built. In 1846, a group of people had hope that the community was changing and hope that they could do something that mattered for this changing community. We are the living proof of that hope. We worship because of their hope.
The Bible is full, so full, of hope. And I nearly missed it all.
Psalm 31:24 - Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.
I was not a very hopeful person in the past. Life was challenging, and I merely muddled through it. This came to a head during my sophomore year of college. I was depressed, going to counseling weekly, and struggling to keep up with my classes. We were obligated to go to weekly chapel services, and I mainly did this to avoid any issues. We worshipped and heard a sermon or some sort of message. Some of those songs we heard have stuck with me and are still very meaningful to me now.
These songs brought me face-to-face with my lack of hope. I couldn’t sing “My hope is in You, Lord / All the day long I won't be shaken by drought or storm / A peace that passes understanding is my song / And I sing my hope is in You, Lord” and it certainly was not well with my soul. My soul was troubled, and I doubted if I would even graduate or if it even mattered.
I do not have a powerful, Pauline conversion story that drew me out of this period. It was a slow, steady slog through rough mental, spiritual, and emotional terrain. There was stripping away, knocking down, and rebuilding. And in the midst of this process, I started to hope. I, however, did not recognize it when it first showed up.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
As Emily Dickinson says, hope perched in my soul, unexpectedly. And it hasn’t stopped. Hope was always there. Always singing. Always perched in my soul. When I recognized it, I realized how hopeful I could be. I could hope for better. I could hope to influence and be part of people's’ lives. I’ve recognized and heard hope’s still, small voice, and now it cannot be silenced in my soul.
I’m so full of hope now. Hope for my future, for my marriage, for my community, for our church, and for our children. Our children are so strong, they are enduring so much, and they will make this world better. My biggest hope now is for them to know this and to know that I am backing them up, cheering them on, and willing to help them however I truly can.