• Rebecca Hoverd

Ordinary hope, extraordinary God

Rebecca writes a timely piece unpacking the theme of hope through the Bible. She encourages us that hope is something we need now, in a challenging season, but also in life's ordinariness.

Needing hope now and always

As we find ourself yet again in lockdown, with the anxiety and stress that comes from Covid-19 in our community, the inability to make plans and the disappointment of cancellations and postponements, we might be thinking that we need a dose of hope.

But once we overcome this current (prolonged) season, you might be disappointed to find that life in all its ordinariness also needs hope.

If we don’t see that seeking out God and placing our hope in Him is something we can do everyday, and perhaps need to do everyday, then we may float and meander through life, unattached and unsecured—hopeless.

Is hope meaningless?

However, I often find that hope is rather a wishy-washy, heavily used, bit-of-a-pipe-dream type word that, in all honesty, has lost its meaning. ‘I hope it doesn’t rain today.’ ‘I hope my new book arrives in the mail.’ ‘I hope my boss doesn’t ask me to do anything extra today.’ ‘I hope the children’s pastor doesn’t want me to help out more.’ ‘I hope my test isn’t hard.’ ‘I hope there is a carpark at the mall.’ ‘I hope xyz hasn’t be panic-bought at the supermarket and all sold out.’

We say over and over that we hope for a lot of things not to happen. Sometimes these things are obligations we feel we owe to our work, our church, and our families. Other times, we make meaningless wishes: requesting a specific kind of weather, or that some material good shows up in our letterbox, or there will be a carpark at the mall. In other words, we use the word ‘hope’ a lot when we don’t really need to. Selfishly, we don’t want more to be asked of us, or we really want good things to happen to us or for life to be just a bit more convenient.

A different perception of hope

Last year, I did a Bible study by Aimée Walker on hope, called Hope, our Anchor. (Highly recommend!!) Aimée writes Bible studies, shares devotional posts on social media, and is ultimately really passionate about the Word. Her insights into what the Bible says on hope have been powerful revelations for me during this study.

One of the verses highlighted in this study has been Hebrews chapter 6, verse 19: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain…”. The portrayal of hope as an anchor is clear: encouraging and powerful. This illustration of hope is further strengthened with the boldness that follows it—hope enters behind the curtain, the holy of holies. Hope is that righteous, that certain, and that secure.

It also recently occurred to me that entering behind the certain, the sacred place with God, conjures up such a sense of intimacy—intimacy with God, which is what can truly sustain us through this season and through all of life’s ordinariness.

Spending time each day studying scripture on hope has put hope in the forefront of my mind. While I didn’t expect that—but I should have—it illustrates to me how human we are and that we do need regular prompting and reminding. I wish I that wasn’t the case, but perhaps that is pride talking.

Have you heard about Habakkuk?

Once something is in the forefront of your mind, you see it everywhere (I think we can thank God for the way He sews these little pieces together). Last year I read Hope in the Dark by Craig Groeschel and found myself engrossed in another illustration of hope. This book takes us through Habakkuk’s journey—a book in the Bible I have honestly not paid much attention to previously.

Habakkuk sets a realistic and encouraging example as he goes through doubting, waiting and then finally, embracing God’s goodness. His very name means to wrestle and embrace. This resonates with me, and it seems to be a very expected and human experience to have.

Hope—it’s everywhere

I came across a beautiful piece of writing on Instagram on hope recently. It spoke of hope as a person, as something that is eternal and never lost. Even when we feel lost, we never really are and we are already found by hope, by Jesus.

I was also recently listening to some of my favourite worship songs and found that hope was in them too. Seasons by Hillsong Worship is a beautiful message about God’s patience and that he fulfils his promises but he takes his time. It fills me with hope because even in the waiting, we can and should know that he will deliver on his promises.

Another song is Glimmer in the Dust by Hillsong United. This song is based on 1 Corinthians chapter 13, which talks about how what we see now is just a part of what will come, when we will see the fullness of love. Sure, life now has its ups and downs but the beauty of creation, the acts of love we show each other, and the joy and peace God gives us daily is a wonderful glimmer of hope, of what we will one day eternally and constantly bask in.

Hope is everywhere—it inspires writing, both the kind shared on social media and in the lyrics of worship music. It is the inspiration for books and devotions written by pastors around the world. And ultimately, hope is found threaded throughout the Bible—for us to read, discover and be filled with daily.

I will finish with some of the last hope-filled words in the Bible: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation chapter 21, verse 4).

Ordinary hope, extraordinary God. Hope is something we can engage with everyday, for the ordinary parts of life and the challenging, deeper, bigger parts of life. Our extraordinary God IS hope, and we can enjoy close, comforting, intimate hope which is also bold and courageous. We can get on and live our lives now, spurred on by the promises of eternity by our God of hope.

Rebecca Hoverd studies law and geography at The University of Auckland and loves writing as a way to communicate with God and to unpack her thoughts. She loves coffee, conversations, and would love to hear your feedback at rebeccahoverd@gmail.com.

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