When You Feel Like A Fool For Hoping Against All Hope
We sit silent on the front porch. The stillness of the morning screams the echo of our pain. The great horned owl hoots across the road, the crackling crows join in the chorus: we hoped and it left us disappointed.
There is nothing but numbness left between us. As if speaking, would desecrate the sacredness of our sorrow. You are braver than I am: you want to keep on hoping. I am so raw I don’t even know how to respond.
“And hope does not disappoint us…” (Rom. 5:5) Well, maybe sometimes it does?
The Shame of Disappointment
There is always a tension I feel when given to hope. We are called to believe yet surrender to the possibility that things may not work out the way we had hoped. I want to temper the possible future disappointment so it’s ache is not so deep. But if I temper it, am I still hoping?
So often we wear the sorrow of disappointed hope. It hangs like a noose around our neck dragging our spirits down with it. Life screams disappointment after disappointment.
The Greek word for “disappoint” in this verse means, “to put to shame.” Disappointment can actually makes us feel ashamed. Loss of hope can cause us to cast away our dignity.
Moo, the Greek guru, actually favors the translation of the verb "disappoint" here as a future tense so that the verse reads, "hope will not put to shame.” Maybe hope is not so much temporal as it is eternal. It has a future element to it as it is grounded in something much deeper than the soil of this world.
Is it possible to have a hope that is rooted in the reality of the eternal? A temporal hope grounded on the future.
“A hope that is not rationally founded will have its expectation cut off; and then shame and confusion will be the portion of its possessor. But our hope is of a different kind; it is founded on the goodness and truth of God.” (Clarke’s Commentary)
Might we have a different kind of hope?
Hope of Another World
Romans 5:5 continues, “...because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
If we know the love of God, we can possess a hope that is otherworldly. It is because of the love of God our hope does not disappoint. The Christian faith is one that is certain of the Object of it’s trust.
When Paul wrote this passage, he knew his readers would need something solid to place their foundation on. A balance that could carry the weight of the disappointment, a measure that would not be found lacking on the scale.
Only the love of God could carry the weight of the disappointment of a world needing hope.
There is a love that knows the ultimate hope let down. The Man of Sorrows felt the weight of the world’s disappointment as He hung on the cross and cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It is only a divine love that has carried the disappointment of all mankind, that can infuse a hope that is other-worldly.
“After all is said and done, the love of God...is the root fact of the universe, and the guarantee that our highest anticipations and desires are not unsubstantial visions, but morning dreams, which are proverbially sure to be fulfilled.”(MacLaren’s Expositions)
Love stretched out His arms and carried the disappointed dreams of a world on His arms. He then defeated that disappointment by rising from the dead. This same love has been poured out upon us like a flash flood filling the canyon below, like a symphony meeting its final crescendo forte.
Love allows us to hope.
Spirit Life Versus Self Life
But so often we don’t feel this love. We are not convinced that nothing will seperate us from the love of Christ. The assurance of love must come from the Spirit.
How quickly we tend to forget the higher power that is living inside us. In a narcissitic age, we forget the spirit life in light of our self life. Might we need to become more mystical in our musings? Might we need to welcome the unseen Spirit into the seen?
If our hope is built on the achievements of our self, in the efforts we put forth, there is no guarantee. G.K. Chesterton in describing the Maniac in his classic book Orthodoxy says,“Shall I tell you where the men are who believe most in themselves? The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums.”
A hope built on man crumbles to dust.
A hope built on Love rises from the ashes.
When Paul wrote about the wonders that no eye has seen, he empahsized that those things were revealed by the Spirit “that we may understand what God has freely given us.” (I Cor. 2:12) It is the Spirit that enlightens our heart to see His love. And that is where we find our hope.
We can look to tomorrow and believe it will be better than today because of Who our hope is in.
And so I hear The Spirit whisper to my spirit,
“There is a hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” (Proverbs 23:18)
“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed.” (Romans 4:18)
“You will be secure, because there is hope.” (Job 11:18)
This is hope.
A hope rooted in the eternal Love whispered by the Spirit of God.
The tension is still there. But even if I feel like a fool, I will die hoping. I would rather die a fool for Love than live the wisdom of this world. I will hope against all hope.