4 Ways to Express Your Hope

When You Hear the Singing

You mainly hear whirs and swishes and clicks of machines in ICU.

My best friends and I are spending many hours standing vigil there the past few weeks. We listen to the sounds. We monitor the numbers. We watch for signs of progress.

Another lifelong friend is struggling to survive.

So when I hear the singing, I am startled.

Hope flourishes

4 Ways to Express Hope

The singing is coming from a nurse. As she moves around the room, circling over our friend, checking screens, and adjusting medicines, she is also quietly singing.

Singing can be a sound of hope overflowing. That’s what I need to hear.

These are four ways we can best express our hope, says Jason G. Duesing in Mere Hope.

  1. Remember
  2. Pray
  3. Sing
  4. Share

In a culture of cynicism or in a circumstance of hopelessness, we need to be reminded to hope.

“To live a life of mere hope is to live knowing that our story ends in joy.”

  • We express hope when we remember the goodness of God.
  • We express hope when we pray in conversation with God.
  • We express hope when we sing out of our overflow or when hope needs restoring.
  • We express hope when we share with others our source of hope.

As the nurse continues to sing, I know it doesn’t mean my friend is out of danger. But it does mean that in this present moment he is stable. No panics. No alarms. No scares.

Her expression of hope brings assurance. It brings calm. It serves me.

“Hope flourishes when it is employed in the service of others.”

It is the sign I need.

* * *

I’d appreciate prayers for my friend. His body is making tiny steps in the right direction, but he has quite a distance yet. I hold hope as I remember, pray, sing, and share.

What hope are you holding open this week? Please share in the comments.


God Is a Safe Place

Hope. It comes from somewhere. It has a source. 

Psalm 62 5 hope

I love how The Message phrases these next few verses (Psalm 62:5-8). Read them slowly. Let them go deep.

“God, the one and only— I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I hope for comes from him, so why not?

He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle: I’m set for life.

My help and glory are in God —granite-strength and safe-harbor-God—

So trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be.”

God is the safest place to be.

* * *

This is Day 20 of Practicing Hope.


How Does the Bible Actually Work?

Not So Quick

Which is it, Solomon?

  • Don’t answer a fool. You’ll only look foolish yourself (Proverbs 26:4).
  • Answer a fool. Otherwise he’ll think he’s wise (Proverbs 26:5).

The Bible isn’t as simple as we’d like it to be. Nor is it as plain. As Peter Enns says in his new book, How the Bible Actually Works, the Bible is not “a teacher’s edition textbook with the answers supplied in the back,” as handy as that would be.

Written thousands of years ago, everything in the Bible is also not relevant to our own culture or times. The laws for the Israelites’ animal sacrifices, for example, or their laws for stoning an unruly child, are not applicable today.

So if we can’t use all of it, should we follow any of it?

Yes.

How the Bible Actually Works_quote

What God Is Like

Enns suggests we just need to realign our expectations of the Bible. He says these three characteristics of the Bible—ancient, ambiguous, and diverse—don’t have to be impediments. These traits can actually be useful to us, as long as we respect them for what they are.

“Rather than providing us with information to be downloaded, the Bible holds out for us an invitation to join an ancient, well-traveled, and sacred quest to know God, the world we live in, and our place in it.”

The Bible is important because it tells us what God is like. It points us to Jesus. It shows us how to seek wisdom and live by it.

That’s why we find hope in the Bible. 

Because we find God there. Not because we regard the Bible as equal with God. Because there aren’t enough words to fully define God, the Word became flesh in Jesus, which we read about in the Bible. Jesus is wisdom personified.

Wisdom is about the lifelong process of being formed into mature disciples, who wander well along the unscripted pilgrimage of faith, in tune to the all-surrounding thick presence of the Spirit of God in us and in the creation around us.”

~ * ~

“And this wisdom is held out before us in the Bible as a gift of God, not a consolation prize, a Plan B we begrudgingly settle for when the Bible falls short of passing out an answer key, so we know beforehand which ovals to fill in on the standardized test.
A life of pursuing wisdom is Plan A.

So How Does the Bible Work?

This book won’t be for everyone. Pete Enns challenges traditional ways of thinking. He doesn’t accept status quo interpretations.

But he holds deep respect for the Bible. He finds Jesus there. And Jesus is the life-changer.

“Jesus is not about teaching ‘correct thinking,’ but realigning minds, hearts, and motivations to act well, to live in harmony with the kingdom of heaven.”

But if outside-the-box thinking appeals to you, I recommend you read How the Bible Actually Works. You’ll be encouraged to read the Bible in fresh ways, to find God in it, and to value the wisdom that God leads you to.

How does the Bible actually work? According to Enns,

  • By showing us who God is.
  • By guiding us toward thinking about God in the here and now.
  • By processing our questions through the arena of wisdom.

He Is Wisdom

And so we return to our beginning question. Do you answer a fool (Proverbs 26)? Or not answer a fool? It depends. Proverbs answers both yes and no.

But don’t give up hope on finding answers. God continues to guide us in specific wisdom for our unique circumstances.

That is the reason we can place our hopes in him. He gives wisdom. He gives Jesus.

He always shines a light on today.

Following Jesus’s teachings is following the path of wisdom—it is your actions, what you say and do to others, not maintaining a hard-line doctrinal stance or turning faith into an intellectual abstraction. And just like Proverbs, Jesus’s teachings are long on casting a vision, but short on scripted details. We have to figure it out every bit as much as we have to work out whether to answer or not answer a fool (Prov. 26:4-5). Following the Sage of Sages takes wisdom and produces wisdom.

The life of faith is a journey alongside the wise master teacher.

* * *

Pete Enns has a PhD from Harvard, is a Professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University, the host of The Bible for Normal People podcast (which I love), and the author of two of my favorite books, The Sin of Certainty and The Bible Tells Me So. You can find How the Bible Actually Works here.

My thanks to HarperOne
for the review copy of this book


Presidents’ Day Hope

In honor of Presidents’ Day, below are three quotes on remaining hopeful. One from a distant President, one from a Republican President, and one from a Democrat President.

May we each maintain hope for our country to be a place of hope for all who come here.

Success is going from failure to failure_Abraham Lincoln

“Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope it will come soon, and come to stay; and so come as to be worth the keeping in all future time.”
– Abraham Lincoln

~ * ~

“No problem of human making is too great to be overcome by human ingenuity, human energy, and the untiring hope of the human spirit.”
– George H. W. Bush

~ * ~

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”
– Barack Obama

* * *


Never Give Up Hope?

“I will never give up hope or stop praising you.”
Psalm 71:14

David made a bold statement there. I repeat it in my head. But it’s not always true in my heart.

Keeping full of hope doesn’t mean we think everything will turn out great. That people won’t die or that troubles won’t come. They will. We all hurt sometimes. We can hold hope and still ache at the same time.

But “never giving up hope” might mean never doubting God’s goodness. And sometimes, when things look bleak, we’re tempted to wonder.

David’s words are my goal. I want to always believe that God’s plan is best. That I can trust him 100%. That no matter what happens, all will be well.

Most of the time? I believe.

All the time? I’m not there yet.

I will always hope Psalm 71

* * *

This is Day 17 of Practicing Hope.


Another Symbol of Hope – Complete and Unending

This is another symbol of hope, in addition to the anchor and the dove.

Symbol of Hope_Native Americans

I learned the following about the eight-pointed star, a symbol of hope from Native American Indians.

“The 8 pointed star symbolizes hope and guidance. A circle around other Native American symbols signifies protection. The circle has no break and cannot be broken.

The Inner Star pointed to the four cardinal points, east, west, north and south.

The points in the Outer circle led to the summer solstice where the sun path would be at its farthest north, the days are longest. A time of renewal and great potential and hope for the future. The Winter solstice marking the onset of winter. The summer and winter equinox when day and night are of equal length. Each are important times in the forthcoming year and are symbols of hope for the future.

The Hope symbol of the eight pointed star therefore represents the four cardinal points of north, south, east and west and their connection to the outermost points on the horizon where the sun passes through the year – the solstice and equinox points.”

Symbol of Hope

As believers in Christ, we can adopt these meanings as well. We hope in the unbroken protection of our God, surrounding us from every direction, renewing us in every season.

Complete. Unending. Hope.

* * *

This is Day 16 of Practicing Hope.