Hope & Hopes

It’s been three months since I posted — my usual summer hiatus — and it’s been a rich time to read, reflect, and recharge.

HopeThis past Wednesday however, a colleague of mine (Dr. Rex Gurney) shared some insights from David Steindl-Rast. It struck a chord with me and might be worth sharing with you, though I’m sure I am butchering his original intent. My apologies.

Most of us (certainly I) have tended to lump hope into a single category. If I have hopes, then I am hope-filled and hopeful and have hope.

As a young man I had hopes that I’d one day marry and have a family. I had hopes that I’d be able to pastor a church that wouldn’t run me out of town. I had hopes that my kids would grow up and be responsible, thoughtful, Christ-following adults. I had hopes that I’d grow old and not suffer too greatly along the way. Hopes. Lots of hopes.

But what happens when those hopes don’t materialize? What happens when our hopes fail? How do we respond when a marriage partner doesn’t materialize (or leaves)? When the kids struggle (or we can’t have kids)? When the work or ministry dreams evaporate?

That’s when we discover (or need) pure hope. When our usual (temporal) hopes are all stripped away, what hope really sustains us?

When we release our hopes we eventually discover pure hope in what’s left. It is the relinquishment of our dreams that gives birth to certainty and true confidence. It is the release of fantasy that gives us the greatest and most magnificent foundation for reality.

Ultimately, it’s not vision but confidence, that sustains us. Wishful thinking, however noble and well-meaning, does not give us authentic and lasting strength. But pure hope — pure hope — is grounded in faith and secures us in the unshakable love of God.

In the same way that beliefs do not lead to faith, so hopes do not lead to hope. On the contrary, real faith (trust) births and clarifies meaningful beliefs, just as hope gives shape to appropriate hopes.

As followers of Christ, we are called to live in hope, not hopes, though the world around us would have us settle for so much less. What hopes have hindered or undermined your pure hope?

This is not merely a play on words; it’s a paradigm shift that could change our lives.

“Now abide faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)


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11 Responses to Hope & Hopes

  1. Barry Thygesen says:

    Thank you Dave, really appreciate hearing ( seeing) you again. I always have something to reflect upon that helps me clarify where I am at. Blessing of peace and purpose.

  2. Gaia says:

    Thank you so much for your writing DrTimms. They truly are an inspiration and help my hope to stay grounded in the One that sustains me!! Again thank you!!

  3. Elaine Steil says:

    Glad you are back. I don’t believe there is anything more despairing than the absence of hope. Not the hope the world speaks of which often sounds like a wish list. I’ve experienced loss, but God in his mercy brought me to a renewal of faith and hope. I meditate on Romans 5:3-5 and Romans 15:13. Thank you for encouraging and inspiring me.

    • David Timms says:

      Elaine, your use of the phrase “wish list” captures it nicely. If we could trade our “wish list” for a heart simply devoted to Christ and His will (“wish list”) for us, we would be in a very different place.

  4. Tim Ross says:

    I used to hope that I would not suffer any serious tragedy. I lived in fear of suffering. But after my mom died, that all came crashing to the ground. That is when I discovered true hope in Christ.

    • David Timms says:

      Tim, the realities of suffering certainly shape us — refining our true hope, or nudging us towards despair. Thanks for the reminder that our true hope is in Christ. 🙂

  5. Marica says:

    As always, your teaching hit the spot. Thank you.

  6. Cheri Cancelliere says:

    Thank you so much for this beautiful reflection. It was just what I needed today.

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