Hope is hard, isn’t it? I’m not sure if I can think of anything harder, except maybe faith and love. And they’re all supposed to go together so you can see the problem. I don’t know if I hurt more than when I want something. When I’m at the end of my tiny human powers and now I have to hope. For something good. Something wonderful. I can picture it, taste it, feel it, hear it, and it seems like it would be a lovely thing. But you’re right, Tom Petty, the waiting is the hardest part. It just is. And Solomon, I agree: hope deferred does make the heart sick. Weak, tired, and not brave at all.

Hope is dangerous. Tricky, confusing, misunderstood. And very dangerous. Just Google “Hope”, search images and see what comes up.

A couple weeks ago I remembered how much I hated hope. The process of hoping for something that you absolutely cannot control. Wretched powerlessness. It’s so easy to see why most of us make friends with resentment and hopelessness and just go home. It’s too much.

Hope feels like this sometimes, so pretty but deceptive. Almost…got it, then Pop! and it’s gone. {Photo credit: reblaura.com}

The truth is that we all know God doesn’t owe us. We don’t deserve the A/C in our houses or the jobs we complain about, the love from our families, the Christmas presents, lemonade on the porch, music in the park, the richness and excess of our lives. Just so much goodness. He doesn’t owe this one other thing. We know it. It’s like we’re just out here on our own on this one. We have to make it happen. Except we can’t. Hands tied; can’t do anything.
The last time I wanted something real bad, I tried to make peace with this. God doesn’t owe me anything. He’s already given me so much. Thankfulness. Lists of good things about my life. Moments of breathing deep, resigning and relinquishing, and then frantically reaching out to yank the dream back. It’s so scary to have no. control. at. all. 
Hah! I like to play brave. I like to act adventurous and thrill-seeking, but the secret is that sometimes I hide in the version of myself that knows life deserves a fearful and calculating approach. So hope is a decided risk. After some risk-benefit analysis, I’d chosen not to hope for about a year and a half or so. Little hopes with minimal risk and elevated possibility of return, sure, but not the big stuff. Not the heart-wrenching hopes. But then a longing hit me and I knew I had to try. Hope. Again. 
Tonight I’m here in the kitchen listening to Laura Hackett’s There’s a Gap on repeat. Because it’s true again.
            What do I do here in the waiting?
            What do I do with my unsatisfied heart?
            What do I do here in the waiting?
            Here in the tension of believing again and again and again?

What I’m supposed to do here in the waiting is the question, isn’t it? What should I do while I wait? I know you don’t owe it to me. But I know you’re an extravagant, jolly Father who loves loves giving good things. I know the feeling. I love going to the store and picking up a ball or some terrible motorized thing that I know John is going to just adore. He’s going to press all the buttons and drive me nuts, but he’s going to giggle and squeal with delight and it’s going to be so so so worth it. He’s kind of like that as a Dad, except way better. With more future insight, more perfect guidance, more wisdom, fewer conditions on his love and approval. Phew.
So all I’ve got to go on in these moments is this memory, this reality, that God is good. He is good. He is good. I know this because he’s healed me and saved me from myself. Repeatedly, as any good dad would.

I remember the summer I was 16 and decided to be a pothead because it seemed like those kids would finally accept me. God only knows why I went to a church pool party that June, but that was the night Katie Ferrell told her story about God coming into her life and giving her something to live for. And I could hear my story in hers so I burst into tears and stood up and told my story there too. A teenage, living room conversion. Long, stringy hair, swimsuit, and tears, with my sad, lonely heart finally knowing the place of belonging. 

I’ve remember the days my junior year of college where I walked to class in a cloud of overwhelming, lovedrunk euphoria when I realized that Father God loved me so much and he was withme, enjoying me all the time. I knew for sure I was loved.
I remember the freezing January night in Denver when he gently pulled on my mask to help me see who I really was, to put away this faux personality I’d constructed and to finally live in peace. Oh, that was really good.
And the afternoon after college when I finally got to give up all my fear and control and seduction and trade it in for love and the power of God. My roommate squinted at me and said, “You look different. You look nicer.”
Yes, I’ve been healed so many times over. And given so many of the desires of my heart. The hopes become dreams, then take on skin and move into my house. Five years ago, it was this man, this knight who fights for my heart and protects me with vigilance. And less than two years ago, this tiny warrior prince who dances and laughs and lives with all his might. And gives the best hugs. And the roommates, all eleven of them, or something like that, who have blessed me with their presence, their humor, their food, their prayer. My friends past and present who hug and squish me, lift me up, pray truth over me and shake off the lies, who sit with me when I am very hard to love. I have it good. Because he is good.

So that’s why I hope. I hope not in the situation, but in the man, Christ Jesus. My living hope who stands in heaven advocating for me to a Father who’s convinced of my adorableness and made certain of my innocence through a bloody sacrifice made on my behalf. I have a God who is good and loves me all the time. I don’t know what kind of things I can expect from the future. But I know I have a resurrected-from-the-dead, impossible-to-beat Hope who doesn’t know the meaning of disappointment. For me, that’s something to believe in.