Thursday, January 21, 2016

Hope Challenges Us

Yesterday, I talked about hope's role in getting us moving. Today, I'll talk about some of the ways that hope does this.

One of the reasons we have hope is to challenge us. It refuses to allow us to settle in and get comfortable. Instead, it prods us to examine our assumptions, grow, improve, and to love more deeply. Hope is God's way of inspiring us to look past what is to see what is possible.

Hope Won't Let Us Settle

No matter how good things are in life, hope cries, "They could be better." No matter how much we've done, hope cries, "We can do more!" Hope is never satisfied with less than the best. Hope hungers for more because there is more. Hope will continue to propel us until we find what fully satisfies. Its voice will only be stilled when perfection is achieved, and nothing on Earth is perfect.

Hope Challenges Our Assumptions

Hope challenges our assumptions about where happiness lies and about what is possible. We are told by the world that if we can just acquire enough stuff, amass enough power, build enough wealth, gain enough prestige, experience enough pleasure, we'll be happy. 

But experience and observation show that no matter how much we have, no matter how much power we're given, no matter how much wealth we build, or how much status we've gained, no matter how much pleasure we experience, we will always want more. Because hope continues to whisper in our ear, "There must be something better than this."

That little voice that tells us there must be something better leads us to seek and to dream of greater things, and so challenges us to grow.

Hope Challenges Us To Grow

Hope keeps setting the bar higher, not to discourage us, but to show us what is possible. Hope's goal is to help us to reach our full potential. Hope will bring to our attention things we are not yet capable of doing so that we are encouraged to try to reach it. God put stars in the sky so that men would dream of reaching them, and follow those dreams to greater things.

Hope does not want us to envy the success of others, but to use it as a sign that points the way forward to what we can become. Hope whispers in our ears, "If they can, you can, too!"

Hope Challenges Us to Pursue Perfection

Hope's gift of making us dissatisfied with Earthly things and to constantly seek better is designed to eventually lead us to perfection. It is in pursuing perfection we discover we are incapable of achieving it on our own, but find ourselves still hungering for it. The hope for God is that the recognition that we cannot achieve perfection on our own combined with the hunger for it will lead us to Him, who is the Perfection of Love.

Hope Challenges Us to Love

The greatest thing a person can experience is to be fully, deeply, and completely loved for who they are, where they are, unconditionally and to be able to give that love back to someone else. However, that kind of love takes the courage to keep your heart open even when you've been hurt, using the pain to build a bridge that leads you back together rather than a wall to block people out. Hope is what feeds that courage and nurtures it.

Hope encourages us to believe the best in others, to believe that people can change, to believe that love can be renewed, and that there is room for improvement in even the best of relationships. When it is our partner or our friend or our family member that has hurt us and the betrayal stings, hope encourages us to take them back again and to believe that things will get better.

When it is we who have fallen and failed our loved ones, hope is what encourages us to seek forgiveness, to believe that it is possible to take a mess and transform it into a message of hope and healing, and to believe that our past does not have to define our future. These things are necessary for love to continue to flourish in our hearts.

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