August 10, 2010

looking in all the wrong places

I do not like being asked hard questions.

I had to answer one recently about where I have been trying to find hope. Good golly miss Molly. I look for hope everywhere. I think a main source of discouragement in past months is that I have been in what looks to be a major hope drought. And as well as my seminary degree and years of Sunday school have taught me how to answer questions like that one, I realized - rather abruptly - that Jesus was not a part of my honest answer.

It's hard to admit that. It's hard to admit that after years of calling myself Christian I can still get so far off base. It's hard to admit that I convince myself all the time that people/things that aren't Jesus are going to contain the hope I want. I look for hope in humans, a lot - in friends & family & counselors & pastors. I look in books and sermons and blogs and songs and recovery groups. I put all my eggs in their baskets, begging for a line, a word, a lyric, a hug, a breakthrough, a blog post, anything that will give me the hope I want. I want hope for recovery. I want hope for a future that is better than this. I want hope for help and support and better days and less tears. I want to have hope. But people cannot love or validate me into recovery. Books and sermons and blogs don't contain magic hope formulas. No matter how many times I listen to a beautiful song, it will not change my heart. Which is why time after time I strike out. Time and again I think - maybe - maybe this time... yes I think I've found -- nope. Fakeout. A-swing-and-a-miss. Hope is hard.

Shortly after I answered the hope question and had a tiny panic attack, I read this in 1 Thessalonians:
"[the] gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power."
Hot diggity. I forgot about power.

I felt so silly. I was too caught up in my attempted hope harvest that I didn't even notice it was missing. Power. In the gospel there is power. Not just words. It's not all talk. In Jesus there is power. God is powerful. I, on the other hand, am not. My powerlessness is easy for me to wrap my brain around, because it makes itself apparent in every minute of my little life. But a power that is great enough to be bigger than everything that overpowers me kind of makes my head spin. In the good way - but still, I'm dizzy. From the spinning.

As unbelievably lame as this is, I looked up the definition of hope. And actually, I'm glad I did.

a feeling of expectation or desire. 
a person or thing that may help or save someone. 
grounds for believing something good may happen. 
a feeling of trust.

I can't remember the last time I felt those things securely. I think sometimes we spend so much time looking for hope in places where hope doesn't live that we forget how to expect. How to desire. What it might be like to be truly helped or saved. What it might be like to actually believe something good may happen. How to trust. To find true, authentic rest not in words, but in power. I looked in words, and I looked hard - and although I caught a glimmer here and there, I always came up short.

because words are not power.
hope is not found in humans or in books or in songs.
hope is more than a word.

hope is found in power. 
power that is not mine...
... and it is not yours.

it is Jesus. Jesus is where hope lives. 
and I imagine that hope is as powerful as I think it is. and then some.  


Frank and Teen said...

Love it. Absolutely believe it and love it! :)

klev said...

Great thing to remember. I know I have been struggling lately to remember the hope I have in Christ