I taught on HOPE at Greenhouse Mission this weekend. It was part of a series on letting God change how we see ourselves: making the mental shift from We’re people who have lost a lot to We’re the ones to whom much has been entrusted.
There’s a big gap between these two mindsets. Hope is the bridge.
My perspective on hope – what it is, where we get it, how it works – was shaped in part by a book I read last week called Unreasonable Hope: Faith in the God Who Brings Purpose to Your Pain. The author, Chad Veach, and his wife share their story of their firstborn child, Gigi, who was born with a brain disorder that makes even the most basic parts of functioning impossible. At three years old she can’t communicate, has daily seizures, and eats through a feeding tube. Veach describes in unflinching terms the stress and fear of daily life as they parent this little girl. They are both incredibly brave and admirably human.
The best part of this book for me was how Veach describes their hope: it’s not something they’re drumming up on their own through positive thinking or determined optimism. There was none of the stuff I’ve seen in other Christian books theorizing about how God must using their daughter’s health struggles to shape their character, and so aren’t they blessed to have this burden? (It seems they, like me, don’t believe that God ruins the lives of young children in order to shape the character of the adults around them.) Instead, Veach talks about mystery, and not knowing. And about how our hope for the future is built on the stories we tell and retell about how God has come through in the past. And the importance of our willingness to recognize small wins here, in the present.
I love this quote:
“As you face life’s trials and storms, what is it that you’re hoping for? I know that it’s easy to feel like giving up and it may seem embarrassing to have an audacious kind of hope that works against common sense, but it’s time to grab onto something that can carry through tomorrow.”
Reading this made me realize how low I was on hope. Which is weird, because you’d think I’d see the signs of that: unhappiness, stress, a grim outlook on life. I had none of those. I was happy, we’ve had a fantastic couple of weeks as a new family, I liked my days. But when faced with the question, “What are you hoping for?” I had no answer. That was BANANAS to me, as I’ve had audacious hope ever since I was nine years old and told everyone who would listen that I was going to go to UCLA on a baton twirling scholarship.
How did I lose this? Can you just forget to hope, or is there something bigger at play? I don’t know, but I didn’t spend all that much time figuring out. I don’t really care where my hope went on its hiatus; I just wanted it back.
The weird thing is, Veach points out, we can’t drum up hope on our own. Hope is outside of our creative limits, in the realm where only God can work. When we’re running on empty, we need to ask for hope. Clearly and directly, without embarrassment. That’s not easy. I hate asking; I’m much more fond of things I can figure out on my own. But I’ve found that asking works, even in situations that seem impossible.
I love this book and the story of this family. And I love the hope it’s stirred up in me since I read it, changing my view of what is possible.
Disclosure: I received a copy of Unreasonable Hope from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.