Active Hope (and Pumpkins)


I hope to grow my very own fall pumpkin. But that hope requires me to water my plant and also keep people from mowing it down (an accident which really only happened once). The point is—I have to guard and nurture my pumpkin hopes. And then, in due time, I can enjoy the fruit of hope realized.

Hope is more than wishful thinking. Hope is active, and keeping hope alive requires effort.

Hebrews 10:23 identifies three actions we can employ to nurture and guard our hope. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” In this verse alone, there is holding. There is confessing. And there is doing, well, the opposite of wavering.

Try standing in an ocean when a wave tries to knock you over—and don’t waver.

Try holding onto the monkey bars, your feet suspended in midair—and don’t let go.

Try confessing anything out loud. Making time to audibly confess sin (or hope or faith) is almost certainly the easiest activity to fall off the to-do list.

We live in a society flooded with social unrest, a pandemic, and a wash of grief over everything—from losing coming-of-age experiences, health, jobs, homes, and even loved ones. And there are murder hornets and hurricanes and earthquakes and a looming election. And a devastating derecho (a new word I learned this week because it is 2020). The world—the enemy—really, really wants us to be hopeless.

There’s a spiritual battle for our souls, and confessing hope that builds faith—well, the enemy doesn’t much like it.

The world’s current state is no surprise to God, and it doesn’t threaten or alter His plan of redemption. There is so much we don’t see or can’t comprehend. Fortunately, God misses nothing. Fortunately, God is faithful. And thankfully, our hope isn’t in ourselves. It isn’t in our democracy, or our president, or our doctors and scientists, or medicines and vaccines, or laws and movements.

For Christians, for those who are a part of the family of God, our hope is in God Almighty, who asks us to call him Father. All powerful. All loving. Our hope is in Jesus Christ, the fullness of grace and truth, who came not to condemn the world but to save it.

When hope wanes, the Holy Spirit—who abides in every Christian—gives us power in our weakness. God’s power sustains us when we can’t hold on, when we waver, when we can’t speak. Lean into Him. Talk to Him. Listen to His words.

Think honestly about what you are hoping for—for the pandemic to be over? For your preferred candidate to win the election? For a time when masks are no longer needed? For “normal”? For comfort and ease? For suffering to end? We aren’t promised an end to suffering in this world, though we are promised the companionship of Christ in the midst of it. And God does use everything we suffer to make us more like Him. But as Christians, there is something we are called to wait upon with eagerness—Christ coming for us. To save us.

“So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Hebrews 9:28

What awaits us, being in the presence of God, in a new heaven and a new earth free of sin and shame…well, it can’t be beat. I am EAGER for it. This broken world can’t even begin to compete with the wholeness and care and belonging and love offered in the kingdom of God.

This is me confessing it. This is me holding on. This is me standing surefooted on the promise that, one day and forevermore, I will be with Jesus in a place that is full of life, where there is no sting of death, no grief, no sorrow, no sin. Everything and everyone in God’s kingdom will be made right and good by His sweet grace and love.

And I’m not just confessing it for myself. Hope is best shared. I like to think of hope as building blocks of faith. When we build up our hope, when we share our hope, we are informing our faith. If we dare hope for something, then it becomes easier to believe that hope will come true.  

So today, I am both holding and sharing my big hope in the living hope of Jesus Christ—what He’s done, what He’s doing, and what He will do. And I am also hanging on to my lesser (but very real) hope for a homegrown pumpkin this fall. Link arms with me (figuratively, of course), and let’s call on God’s strength to do what it takes to keep hope alive not because we hope the world will become a better place to live but because we know Jesus is with us in this world and the one to come. Our current circumstance isn’t all there is to a life found in Christ. Hallelujah!

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:13). Amen.