Hoping in Hope

October 15, 2015

by Erin Bird

Note: If you hate baseball, bear with me for a moment. I have a purpose in this...

This past Monday, I kept checking my phone for score updates. You see, my Kansas City Royals were playing the Houston Astros in Game 4 of their playoff series. An Astros win would mean Houston moves on to the next round of the playoffs while my Royals would go home for the off-season. But a Royals win would force a decisive Game 5 to decide who moves on.

But as I checked my phone in the 7th inning, the Royals' pitchers had given up two more runs to go down 6–2 heading into the 8th inning.

Down by 4 runs... only 2 innings left... it seemed impossible. In fact, experts gave the Royals only a 3% chance of winning as they stepped up to bat in the top of the 8th.

I'll be honest. In that moment, I agreed with the experts. The Astros have been playing like a team with a destiny. Down by 4 runs, I figured there was no way my Royals could come back. I slammed my phone back into my pocket, feeling dejected that the Royals' season was about over. My hope of seeing them in the World Series completely faded.

Foolish Hope

So often, when we talk about hope, we are talking about things that we long for but are outside our control.

  • We hope our team will win.
  • We hope she'll say "yes."
  • We hope we get the job.

We hope... but we have no ability to affect the outcome ourselves.

I don't know about you, but this realization makes me want to give up on hope. If I have no ability to affect the outcome, then why even allow that hopeful longing to be sparked?

Because when you have no hope, you end up with despair.

In Psalm 42, the poet admits he is in despair. He talks about tears being his "food" (verse 3), about being emotionally and spiritually thirsty (verse 2), and about feeling like God has forgotten him (verse 9). Yet notice what the poet says in verse 5

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God."

Through the psalm, the poet is on the verge of despair. It seems his hope has diminished. But rather than place his hope in things outside his control, he places his hope in the One who does have control.

This tells me a few things:

  • It's foolish to live with a blind optimism that everything will just "work out." That's just hoping in hope.
  • Yet it is also foolish to hope in nothing. No hope leads to despair, apathy, anger, or any host of emotions that won't allow you to make the most of life.
  • But placing your hope in God admits HE is sovereign and in control.

So no matter how bad life gets here, you can truly believe the best is yet to come. Even if everything DOES go wrong, this life isn't all there is. Your current afflictions are momentary compared to the glory of eternity.

So don't live with a blind hope that hopes in hope.

And don't live with no hope that leads you to despair.

Instead, place your hope in God, trusting that He is at work even if you can't see it. May you praise Him, even when it seems your hope is gone.

Oh, and by the way, against all the odds, the KC Royals scored 5 runs in the 8th inning and two more in the 9th to win 9-6, forcing a Game 5... which they won last night 7-2. Their World Series hopes are still alive!

May you keep hope alive in your life as you place it on the only One who is in control.

Erin Bird Lead Pastor - Riverwood Church

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Riverwood Church, Waverly Iowa

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