The Distinction Between In and For - Part 1
- Thursday, February 19, 2009
Unless the cold of winter has moved beyond our bones and into our hearts, unless we have allowed the bumps and bruises of life to numb us—the New Year holds hope.
Despite all that has passed up till now, the New Year holds the promise of something better, the promise of a new tomorrow. It is true that winter has only just begun and that the spring of our youth is not ahead—but behind. There is hope, but it has been trampled and mishandled so that we dare not believe this year will be any different from last year. Last year’s hopes lie crumpled by the curb. The voices whisper, “Perhaps it is better to give up hope than face yet another year of disappointment.” Never!
In this time of longing, and waiting, this unique place of suffering our “perseverance” should produce “character” and character should produce hope, but it is not automatic (Rom. 5:4). Paul tells us “hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Rom. 5:5). This time of longing should be characterized by hope, but it is not always so.
As for me I cannot and will not live without hope. I cannot and will not pretend that my refusal to ask and hope "in" the Lord is faith. I do not perceive it as faith but stoicism: a noble idea that to suffer and endure lack without a word is more spiritual. It is the false idea that to ask of God is weakness. It is also the very human idea that to hope is to risk disappointment. To hope IS to risk disappointment. Hope anyway! Risk anyway!
Insecurity caused me to live by fear, and the fear would not allow me to risk. I had no boldness in relationships because I lived in fear and the fear of disappointment constricted hope. Then Love whispered, “No matter how far you fall I will catch you.” Ah! That is what I longed to hear. For then no risk was fatal. In the midst of Love’s fair garden hope sprung up. Its scent was sweet and its blossom beautiful, and I swooned at its touch. If you want permission to hope this year for a husband or wife—hope! Hope that the Lord of heaven will grace you this year with marriage and if He does not—trust His kindness to keep you.
I nurture hope because I am safe and secure in His hands. Once, when I was terrified of failure (now I am just afraid) I risked little and buried hope beneath pragmatic words such as “realistic.” “Be realistic!” “Be real!” Which was my subtle way of saying, “Don’t dream!” But tell me, who hopes for what is? Who dreams of the way things are?! Why bother? What a miserable world to dream into existence—the world that is. No one would dream if all things were as they should be. All is not as it should be. Hope is an honest confession that all is not well and that we are not home yet. Hope for a relationship is the confession that, “It is not good…” He is good! But all is not well with the world and we have a personal longing we wish fulfilled.
Some of us have at some point turned from hope to obsession, from hope to fixation, and passed on to stubbornness. This is not hope and has little relation to true hope. It is self-will at best and desperation at worst. If the person is not in the Lord, if you are ill matched, if you are in sin, get out! Leave off hope! Instead of hoping in this person, take a step back and—through purity and obedience—hope in God. There is a hope that is not hope but wishfulness, a hope called foolishness and delusion. I do not mean this form of self-deception falsely called hope.
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