Sometimes I jokingly say I hate hope, but I’m not joking.
Recently, I learned that I’m not alone, and that hating hope a real thing.
On his podcast, “The Place We Find Ourselves,” Christian counselor Adam Young talked about our war with hope.
He said we hate hope because it causes an inward groaning, an agonizing longing for something we want from God.
It’s especially agonizing when the longing is for something deeply important — far beyond hoping for good weather for your picnic.
Young said true hope is torment because it involves both wanting and waiting, and not just waiting, but waiting expectantly, believing that the thing will happen.
The psalmist, after pleading with God to hear him and have mercy on him, writes, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:7, 13-14).
God hears the groanings of his people. He gives them their desires in this life, but not all of them.
The dilemma, Young said, is that we don’t know which desires he will give us “in the land of the living” and which ones we won’t see fulfilled until eternity.
God isn’t a magic genie, but at the same time he tells us to ask.
It forces us to wrestle with God, to keep knocking and seeking and asking.
I know that sounds like God is arbitrary and cruel, but that’s not it.
Young said it’s about relationship, that our wrestling with God actually brings us close to him, we get to know him, even as we hurl our anger and disappointments at him.
Of course, you can always stop hoping, Young said. You can deaden your desires and tell yourself, “If I didn’t want this so badly I wouldn’t hurt so much.”
That happens when you reach a breaking point and say, “I’m done” — and you mean it.
Have you been there? I have. I’ve been done praying over situations that have broken my heart, done pleading with God for his help and rescue.
But hope never seems to go away.
The other alternative is to become cynical, tell yourself you’re just being realistic. Realistically, maybe even statistically, this thing probably won’t happen, so why hope?
I’ve done that too.
The problem with that, Young said, is that it denies the reality of the miraculous, the resurrection power of God to intervene and turn situations upside down, which God does all the time.
For me, whenever I am at war with hope, there’s something inside me that won’t let me give up completely.
It’s as if God’s Spirit is letting my spirit know God’s not finished yet and that my very groanings are producing good things in me, like perseverance, which produces character — which produces hope (Romans 5:3-4).
It always comes back to hope.
“And hope doesn’t disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts,” writes the Apostle Paul (Romans 5:7).
Will he respond to my cries? Yes, he will.
And whether I get what I ask for or not, even in my hopeful torment, his grace is always enough, and that, ultimately, is my hope.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria — I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing” and “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927 or via email at email@example.com.