I’ve never been an optimist. I don’t like to call myself a pessimist, though. I prefer “realist” because it sounds better. Less of a downer. I just don’t want to be disappointed. Who does? Yet all the time, in so many ways, we hope.
I hope that the light will stay green until I get through it, or there will be good BOGO deals at Publix. I hope that the kids will find something else to do so I can have time to myself, and the key lime pie from last night doesn’t show up on my hips.
Those aren’t so bad. The bar is low. It’s when I hunger for deeper things that it can get dangerous.
I hope that my husband will always be there for me. I desire deep friendships. I long for our kids to grow up to love Jesus and follow Him. I want my life to impact others in a positive way. I would love to avoid pain. I wish all my prayers would be answered in timely and satisfying ways.
That is where hope gets tricky for me, because I know the potential for disappointment is so much greater. These are unpredictable, temporal desires, out of my control. My husband travels and leaves me alone. My friends get busy. My kids have to choose their own way, and it may not be mine. I am just one person amidst a sea of voices. The path of growth often leads through suffering. God has other ways of answering my prayers.
It’s tempting to lower my expectations, play it safe, safeguard my heart.
That’s not where life is though.
So do we stop hoping? Or do we fix our hope on something more solid?
This spring and summer, I have been camped out in the Psalms. I keep coming across verses about waiting on God, hoping in Him. He doesn’t ask us to stop hoping. He just asks us to place it in a different place. We hope not in gifts, but in the Giver.
But what does that look like? For me, I’m learning that it means laying all my desire before Him, acknowledging that they are good and God-given desires.
And then I have to open my hands and release my expectations on how those desires will be met. I trust that He will satisfy me in His time and His ways. Easier said than done.
But when God is the anchor of our hope, we aren’t blown about by the winds of disappointment as easily. We believe that He sees our hearts and knows our ways, and if we don’t get what we want, there’s something better in store. We have Him to come back to, our solid place, when we are disappointed.
Without this, without Him to go back to, I could easily lose hope. But with Him, I am reminded that hope is good. Hope keeps us expectant. It keeps us looking to Him, believing in His goodness, trusting in His love. Hope keeps our hearts open.
In that light, I could be an optimist.