I’m picking a common denominator for 2016.
A word that I pray will underline my goals and my work and how I spend my time and energy. A theme to purposefully infuse my day-to-day with joy and wonder and anticipation.
It’s a four-letter word, you guys. And most four-letter words have power, one way or another.
I want to abound in hope this year.
I’ve always considered myself an optimistic person, but I think hope goes further than optimism. I think God is challenging me to take optimism a step further.
Check this out.
Google is a stalker and also a genius and it tracks the usage of many English words over time, drawing from books and newspapers through the ages. As of about 1827, hope was a buzzword in our language. It slowly became less and less popular throughout the 20th century.
BUT. Check this. As of 2010? Hope is on the rise again. It’s back in style.
This graph got me thinking about my own vocabulary, and what it would mean for hope to be on the rise in my words and my work and my relationships this year.
I think hope is actually serious business. It isn’t fluffy or hypothetical, and it isn’t easy.
Here are a few ways I’m defining hope as I enter the new year.
Hope implies trust.
Hope implies trust in God for the outcomes that I can’t see and the circumstances I’m skeptical about. “Hope that is seen is not hope,” Romans 8:24 tells us.
I pray I’ll increase my trust in Him this year. Like, for real. Not in the pretty, idealogical way that I’m prone to. But in the messy way.
Like, God I’m trusting you to hold me up when I wanna give up. God I’m trusting that my relationships will thrive, rather than nose-dive. God, I’m trusting that you will take care of my family in the midst of loss and change.
If I re-write each of those sentences using hope in place of trust, the meaning stays much the same.
God, I’m placing my hope solely in you to hold me up. I have hope that my relationships will thrive through your love and leadership. I’m hoping and believing that you will care for my family.
Trust and hope are hand-in-hand.
I think, if I’m honest, I don’t often trust God’s gifts for me. I feel like I don’t deserve the beauty around me. A job that challenges and fits me. Friends that love me deep. Warmth and comfort and security. I often live like these gifts are accidental, or that they will soon be snatched away when God realizes what a ragamuffin I am.
This year, I pray I will TRUST and HOPE more in God’s goodness and gifts. Hope implies that I will trust that His gifts are good, and that they are purposeful for me.
Ultimately, I pray I will grow in my knowledge of God’s trustworthiness. He is the God of hope. He is the God of trust.
Hope requires action.
According to Webster’s dictionary, hope implies a high degree of certainty, to the point of preparing for and envisioning something. Hope is active. What a beautiful thought…that I might trust in God so fluidly that I might actively be preparing for the the things that I hope for. That I would remain suspicious that God is up to something good.
Like: I’m hoping and praying for breakthrough in this project, so I’m going to work hard and prepare for success. I’m hoping that the care I’m giving to this friend is crucial and life-giving, even if I can’t see it now. So I’m going to keep showing up. I’m hoping that the simple act of creating with my hands is beautiful and worthwhile, pointing me to the beauty and thoughtfulness of my creator. So I’m going to keep on creating.
This year, I want to act on my hope.
Hope isn’t passive. It is not ignorant of the hardships or the odds or the harsh realities. Hope knows, but it hopes anyway. Hope is kind of a rebel, which is why I like it.
Hope requires hard work.
It’s easy to see the cracks in everything and despair.
It’s hard – and holy, I believe – to see the cracks and to hope anyway.
That’s the belief that I want to practice this year. I pray that in 2016, I will do the hard work of hope. I will not give in to the easy grumbling of cynicism.
I’m going to hope and believe that God has given me my gifts with exact purpose, so I’m going to work hard to keep writing and creating, despite discouragement. I’m incredibly hopeful that God has given me great work to do, so I’m going to work hard to serve my clients and coworkers with integrity and selflessness.
I’m filled with hope that God reveals himself to me through relationships, so I’m going to work hard to be a great friend. To give and serve and delight the people in my life and cherish them like the gifts they are. And, in return, to accept the love of my friends for me in gratitude and wholeness.
When crappy things happen, I’m going to do the hard work of looking for the light and trusting that God is the very heartbeat of hope.
2016 is going to be the best year yet, you guys.
Why? Because, as God’s chosen people, our hope is always here, and it is always coming, all at the same time. The finished work of Jesus Christ and the simultaneous promise of His return means that our God is ever-present and ever-on the move. Every passing moment is another chapter written in the story.
2016 is going to be the best year yet.
If you’re reading this, will you take a deep, soul breath and believe that over yourself?
I hope it’s true. I trust it’s true. I’m going to live my life like it’s true.
“In a fallen world, how profound is it to see the cracks? The radicals and the reflective, the Ruths and the revolutionaries – they are the ones on the road, in the fields, pointing to the dawn of the new kingdom coming, pointing to the light that breaks through all things broken, pointing to redemption always rising and the Advent coming again. Brilliant people don’t deny the dark; they are the ones who never stop looking for His light in everything. ” – Ann Voskamp