Well, it would seem the natural progression, that after “grace” I would think of “hope”, and let me guess what’s next, “love?” Yeah, I guess it is. These are the very things I’ve been pondering as we come into the season of Christmas. Hope has always been an important part of my life and my faith, it’s always been something that has pushed me forward. But what does it mean, what’s so significant about it?
The dictionary defines “Hope” as “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events WILL turn out for the best: to give up hope.” I absolutely LOVE this definition, because there’s actually hope in the definition itself! We all want to feel like what we want can be had and that events will turn out for the best, I mean, we HOPE it will, and that HOPE is the very thing that it takes to drive action to make it happen. It’s the catalyst for driving you to do the things you need to do to get the results you’re looking for.
Think about it, if you don’t think it will truly happen, what are you going to do? Well, you’re probably not going to put together a game plan or a strategy. You’re not going to do the work required. You’re not going to be invested. But if you have a real hope, you have faith that if you do your part to the best of your ability, your result will be what you’re looking for. That’s faith meeting hope. As a coffee professional, I have the hope that if I continue to tell others about what specialty coffee is, at work and away from work, people will see the value, or at least be more interested in finding out more about it. With my work in social media, my hope is that it makes my company more successful, and that it brings people together, builds community. And I work hard towards those goals.
Hope is the one thing that saves you when you’re stuck in a deep hole with no visible way out. Hope is the thing that allows your mind to create a strategy to get out, the thing that allows you to believe you will live, you will be saved. If you’re in a bad work environment, it’s the thing that helps you remember that there is better for you, and that if you work hard, a better job opportunity will come your way. Hope is the thing that pulls families through incredibly hard health issues like breast cancer or heart attacks. Hope is not the same as positive thinking. Hope is so much more than that.
From Dr. Charles Snyder, “The difference between hope and optimism: hope entails pathways and thoughts to an intended goal. Optimism leads one to “expect the best, but it does not necessarily provide any critical thinking about how we are going to arrive at this improved future.” In the Bible, Hope means “a strong and confident expectation.” Hope, like Grace, holds an amazing amount of power, and should be appreciated, encouraged and nurtured. I think one of the things that we neglect on a daily basis, but need now more than ever.
Listen, I know this stuff sounds like new age mumbo-jumbo, but it’s not. It’s simply a reminder of the tools we have at our disposal on a daily basis to be successful in this life. Maybe it’s just me that needs these reminders, and that’s why I’ve been thinking and really meditating on these things, but I’d bet I’m not. Because I have talks with friends every day, and they’re trying to figure all this stuff out just like I am. And here’s the thing, understanding and appreciating grace helps you have context for your life, and helps you remember what you have and how you have it. Having hope reminds you of what’s possible, and motivates you to action to get to the goal.