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30 Thankful Days (November 30th)

Sometimes words change faster than Bible translations. Some words morph faster than politicians change positions. Worse still, some words are taken captive and forced into the labor of deception. They end up communicating the very opposite of their truest meaning.

For example, the simple word hope has come to mean something unsure and doubtful. Everyone hopes for the best, but prepares for the worst. When we talk about hope in everyday language we are really talking about our insecurities: who knows how things will really work out?

It’s not always been that way. The word hope used to do some pretty heavy lifting. The Biblical notion of hope is the opposite of un-certainty. It’s a word filled with expectation: expectation of God’s powerful intervention. The word hope describes the in-breaking of joy capable of showing fear to the door. When the Spirit of God speaks of hope the word means “confident expectation,” or quite literally a life-line from heaven. It is an overflowing word, intended to be contagious, changing lives and cultures. Hope is the engine of a thankful heart.

Hope is an abiding thing. It hangs out in the company of faith and love. It will outlast this world.

We could spend the next decade plumbing the depths of Biblical hope. We could explore the pathways of hope until we draw our final breath, only to discover that the half has not been told. Godly hope is the rebirth of divine certainty in us, and it does not disappoint.
Hebrews describes hope as an anchor, thrown--not into the sea--but into the heavens. The preacher of that message suggests hope should spur us to diligence, not out of desperation but rather confidence.
Hosea discovered the "gateway of hope" in the "valley of Trouble."
The Psalms reveal that hope is the antidote for depression and turmoil. Not wishful thinking or a positive mental attitude, but instead drinking deep from springs of hope the way a deer searches for streams of water.
In Romans, the Apostle Paul promised us that hope does not disappoint. Hope is the conduit through which God’s love pours into our hearts.

I’m beginning to re-tool my vocabulary, and more importantly my heart. What has God said? What has he promised? I will lash myself to his revelation, because hope abides. Our ability to give thanks from the heart depends upon hope: the hope of God’s goodness and the hope of his constant presence. The greatest of these may be love, but faith and hope are love’s fellow travelers. I suspect there’s room for you in the traveling party.

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Reader Comments (4)

Thank you for this series of being thankful. It's been really good. Watching Pieces of April was painful for me; I could only watch parts of it; the ending was good. I cracked up when her boy friend invited them up - and then the heart-break of them driving away. I liked your Day 29 perspectives; it takes courage to present them - like it does to recommend Pieces of April. And yes, HOPE!

December 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGary

Hi Gary:

I'm so glad you hung in there for the entire month, and I'm glad some of the posts spoke to you.

In an odd way, I think "Pieces of April" and "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" have something in common. They both present the chaos and confusion of modern life, where we are radically disconnected from one another, and they both present the vision of the banqueting table--which is a Biblical image of the age to come. We we gather around the Thanksgiving table, we enjoy a foretaste of the Age to come.

Blessings to you!

December 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

I love this—the stark contrast between our everyday use of the word hope ("talking about our insecurities") and the biblical use, which "describes the in-breaking of joy capable of showing fear to the door." As usual, your words are rich and true.

December 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKristin T.

Thanks, Kristin:

I think is oh-so easy for me to bring my understanding of what a word means to the Biblical witness, which (frequently) has another meaning all together.

I'm working on a post about hope and vision: Hope sees the broad horizon, despair cannot see beyond the room.

Blessings,

~ R

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

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