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misplaced hope


We need hope.

Hope is what gets us up and out of bed in the morning when the impossible is staring at us in the face.

Hope is what energizes and empowers us to keep hanging on when the unthinkable has disrupted our lives.

Hope reminds us that while we may not see it right now, we can have confidence that it is there.

Without hope we walk around defeated, broken, and disheartened.

Hope is that spark of the “perhaps”; it is that thing that grounds us. It gives us the courage to keep hanging on. Hope is powerful and necessary. In order to overcome the ups and downs, the trials and uncertainties of this life, we need hope.

But sometimes we get off track. In our self-preservation, we veer off the right pathway and begin to put our hope in the wrong hands. We place our focus, our energy, our expectations, into people or things that may serve us to a degree, but can never promise true assurance of long-term stability and peace. For a temporary moment they may promise a hopeful return, but in the end, those promises do more harm than good.

I call this misplaced hope. And misplaced hope leads to a troubled heart.

I love the wording of the psalmist in Psalm 42:

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you.” Psalm 42:5,6

When my attention is pulled away from the true source of hope, my soul plummets. When I choose to trust in a person over the consistent and faithful hand of God over my life, then hope is lost and trouble abounds. And yet, even if God seems silent to my cries or the wait is longer than I had anticipated, when I turn my eyes heavenward and begin to remember God’s faithfulness in the past, even then hope returns and peace envelopes the downcast soul.

My friends, it may appear that somehow your hope hangs vicariously in the hands of a person, a place, or a thing, but that is simply not true. Anything we place our faith in outside of God’s hands is merely wishful thinking; that is not real hope at all, just misplaced hope.

Hope in the hands of God is hope accompanied with peaceful assurance. It is the kind of hope that I mentioned at the beginning of this post: the hope that pulls us up out of the pit and gives us the endurance to keep pressing on.

“And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:3-5

The hope Paul describes in this passage is not the kind of hope we typically ascribe to the word hope. It is not the warm, fuzzy, wishful kind of feeling, i.e. “maybe this will happen or maybe this person will change”, contingent upon circumstances. Rather, the hope that Paul is talking about is confidence in God’s faithfulness to fulfill his promises to us. There is no wrestling with doubt or wishing hard enough to make it happen. When God commands his will to be done, it will be done.

And this kind of hope does not disappoint us.

When our souls are troubled – when we find ourselves wallowing in defeat – we must ask ourselves: where have we placed our hope? I know for myself I have had many a downcast-soul moments that always, always, point to misplaced hope. And in those moments I have had to declare to my heart the truth of who truly holds my future- and my life- in his hands. When I do that, my hope is restored and peace returns to my soul.

Where, or in whom, have you placed your hope? If you are not sure, just ask your heart: are you troubled, or are you at peace?

Misplaced hope leads to a troubled heart.

Hope in God leads to a hopeful heart because God is the God of hope.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

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