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Is misplaced hope really hope at all?

“But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.”

(Ps 39:7)

Bibles often become my keeping place. A place where pieces of my heart are tucked for safe-keeping.

Every once in a while, when I come across some treasured scrap, a memory awakens and takes center stage. As was the case recently, when I flipped through a shelved Bible, temporarily taken out of rotation.

Still marking the place in Isaiah where the cherished memory was made was the timely note of my then five year old daughter. In my mind’s eye I could still see her sheepish smile up at me from the church pew one particularly hard Sunday morning. I remembered her soft voice. I recalled the lump in my throat and the tear that welled at the overwhelming realization it was God-graced.

My Bible then opened to another milestone memento. I recognized it immediately. I had forgotten the note, and where it was stored even, until that moment. As I read the words, a stabbing sensation came with them. The context bloomed fresh. And, though penned years ago, the wrestling to write those words revived.

It wasn’t just that I had built up plans for our family that day, I had built up some pretty grand expectations. So when they were demolished, I was crushed.

After the crushing disappointment, and all things were settled and reconciled, I determined to do the hard work of understanding—because I never wanted to feel so devastated ever again. I didn’t want to emotionally react (or over-react) in such a way again. This note was part of that growing process.

I have often revisited those concluding words to self.

Since that day . . . that painful lesson learned, whenever a unique occasion arises and I sense that I am building a lofty expectation, I check where I have placed my hope. Rather than set my heart on that person or thing, I look for God. Hope-filled, I anticipate His presence and participation.

Therein always lies blessing.

“Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.”

(Ps 146:5)

God placed hope in man—because life without hope is deepest, despairing darkness. Hope is only satisfied when it is placed in the only hope-worthy thing—God. Then it is living, vibrant, strong. Then it cannot be stolen or crushed. Then it does not fail nor disappoint.

Because He is the God of hope—its Author and Source—I had to turn to His Word to learn the truth about hope. Then I had to train in properly placing hope. One such way was learning to pray Psalm 25:5:

“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

This has been an ongoing lesson for me. It’s one God faithfully whispers to my soul at appropriate times. All it takes is a simple, "Remember."

Back in July my darling daughter got married. As days and plans built up to that grand day, I remember reminding myself a couple of times of the lesson of that day long ago. I kept checking my heart and my hope to see where it was placed. I determined not to hope in the day—but to purposefully look for God. To hope in Him. And it was one of the sweetest days ever. I saw His fingerprints everywhere. His love and delight and glory were evident and His presence obvious. And hope abounded . . . beyond the day.


Q: When has misplaced hope left you wanting? Because, is misplaced hope really hope at all?


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