Hope Is More Than A Word
“For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth” (Psalm 71:5)
Eight years ago I stumbled across the One Word 365 movement. The concept behind it was to adopt one word to guide your year instead of making a list of ultimately unresolved resolutions. Since, I am not a big resolution person to begin with, adopting one word to ponder all year appealed to me. So, in 2014 I adopted the word “intentional” and thus began my journey with One Word 365. Since then I have spent 365 days focusing, relinquishing, following, and being mindful and reluctantly bold. I attempted thriving in 2019 (definitely didn’t turn out the way I thought it would), and last year was spent with hope.
Hope wasn’t my first choice, but it was a “safe” choice. My heart had been circling around another word, but I wasn’t sure I could explain it. My first choice seemed odd compared to the standard words of faith, joy, and peace. So, I settled for my second choice, hope.
I’ll be honest, I struggled with hope this year. I tried wearing it around my neck and wrapped about my wrist like a good luck charm. I clung to it like a life-raft in an ocean of discouragement. I rubbed it across my lips like a magic lantern breathing out wishes for change. I wanted so badly to feel hopeful, but I didn’t. Feelings of disillusionment, discouragement and disappointment marked my year more than hope.
The truth was I had viewed hope as something to be felt. At the end of 2020 I wanted to feel better. I wanted my heart to be lighter. I wanted the anger inside of me to stop churning. I wanted to be able to trust people again; I wanted the disappointment to stop. I wanted to feel like singing in the rain, not crying in it. Ultimately, I wanted the sun to shine in my heart again.
But, hope doesn’t work that way. This year taught me that hope is not a feeling or sense of euphoria. It doesn’t come or go based on my circumstances. It doesn’t hide behind the clouds only to appear when the sun shines.
The truth about hope was in the verse I had posted as my cover photo at the beginning of 2021: “For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth” (Psalm 71:5).
The truth about hope was that hope is found in God. In fact, God is hope. You see, I had placed my trust in the word hope, in the idea of feeling hopeful. Basically, I wanted a magic wand to wave my struggles and tough feelings away. I wanted God to instantly make me feel better. Instead of seeking God himself, I was craving good feelings. A year with hope started to teach me that hope was not the absence of disappointment or discouragement; hope was the presence of God in the midst of all the struggles life had to give.
Maybe now you’re wondering, what’s my word for 2022?
Believe it or not, it was the word I considered for 2021, but set aside for hope.
The word I came to for 2002 is behold, which means look or see. Two verses led me here:
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:38.
As I enter 2022, I want to look for what God is doing and I want be His ready servant. I want to “behold” the Lord this year.
Maybe you are like me and want to experience God in a new way this year. I challenge you to consider asking God to lead you to a word to guide your thoughts and actions for the next 362 days. I know I have been blessed by the practice since 2014.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.