Say ‘yes’ to hope. The Scriptures are insistent about this.
“Hope in God” (Psalm 42:11).
“But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord” (Micah 7:7).
“And hope does not put us to shame” (Romans 5:5).
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
“Command those who are rich…not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth…but to put their hope in God” (1 Timothy 6:17).
“In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3).
We must re-up our hope in God often. At least daily. For the voice of our world never gets tired of telling us to let up, give up, shut up. It loves to crash our celebrations and tell us, “The party is over. Everyone go home.” It stands in our driveways, hallways, getaways, and every other “way” we go, and decrees a simple, yet penetrating edict: “No!” As in, “there’s no way,” “there’s no reason to believe,” “there’s no point in trying,” “there’s no-thing that can be done.” No, absolutely not.
This is the voice of discouragement, and it has well-armed itself against our kingdom-come prayers, and our hope-filled ways. Like a terrible song stuck in our heads, discouragement reverberates its no-ing message in a chorus locked in repeat, “No, no, no, no, no!”
Life can often feel like one giant, ugly NO, can’t it? Clouds tell the sun, “No.” Traffic tells the driver, “No.” Gravity tells my efforts to dunk a basketball, “No.” Addiction tells freedom, “No.” Divorce tells marriage, “No.” Abuse tells security, “No.” Death tells life, “No.”
T.S. Eliot captured the utter despair of living in a NO-filled world in his famous poem, “The Wasteland.” It speaks of the filth and chaos, despair and aridity, of a world void of God. Some of this poem’s famous lines include,
“April is the cruelest month.”
“For you only know a heap of broken images.”
“I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”
In a most beautiful form, Eliot captures an utterly formless, beauty-less, hopeless world.
But what many people don’t realize is that “The Wasteland” was not Eliot’s final word on our world. As Eugene Peterson points out in Subversive Spirituality, Eliot later came to faith in Christ and eventually wrote, “Four Quartets,” which describes our world with what he believed was a more fitting metaphor: a rose garden. A place of wonder, life, and flourishing. A place of hope. A stunning, YES.
The wasteland was replaced by the rose garden. The despair was lost in the wonder. The NO was restored to a YES. What was it that prompted this radical transformation? It was the voice of YES in Eliot’s life, the voice of Hope—the person we know as Jesus.
Because we find ourselves in a rose garden and not a wasteland, we can genuinely say, “There is a way.” “There’s plenty of reason to believe.” “There is so much that can be done.” Yes, yes, yes. Heck yeah!
So say ‘yes’ to Hope. Fix your eyes on Hope. Put the chorus of Hope on repeat. Why? Because Hope reminds us that we do not live in a wasteland, but a rose garden. And this rose garden, which we call, “The Kingdom of God,” only continues to bloom. Oh, yes.
Are you in a season where you are able to see the Hope of the rose garden? If so, tell us about it. If not, how can you cultivate the buried Hope to bloom?
Dave Ripper serves as Pastor of Young Adult Ministries (20 & 30-somethings) at Grace Chapel in Lexington, MA (grace.org). He is passionate about leading people to live life with God through teaching, writing, conversation, and the spoken word. Dave and his wife, Erin, a mental health therapist, are graduates of Denver Seminary and Grove City College. They write on spiritual formation and all else that brims over at daveanderin.tumbr.com.