Sleep on This: Hanging on hope (April 23)
Good evening, friend!
I usually begin this evening note by asking, “How is your soul?” Tonight, I want to ask, “Are you hopeful?” I’ve been reflecting a lot on that word, “hope.” I didn’t realize just how prominent a theme it is in scripture. I know that I’ve never spent more time thinking about hope than I have in these recent days. Because, surely…right now… we need hope more than just about anything else, don’t we?
And not the world’s hope. The world’s idea of hope is cross your fingers, knock on wood, blow out all the candles and make a wish. Worldly hope is an aspiration; a dream.
Biblical hope is JUST the opposite. Biblical hope is a confident assurance. It is certainty. It is the firm belief that God can be counted on tomorrow because he has shown himself faithful in all our yesterdays. Or as I shared last night, “Hope is faith in the future tense.”
The word hope appears more than 165 times in scripture. There are seven different Hebrew words for hope. “Tikvah” is one of my favorites. “Tikvah” is found, for instance, in Psalm 62:5: “ For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope (tikvah) is from him.”
“Tikvah” is actually derived from the craft of cable-making. It meant a strong rope and suggests the idea of something that you can grab, something you can hang on.
This is a picture of Pinnacle Peak near Mt. Rainier. It is the favorite Toone outing; we have scrambled to the top of that peak many times. But by far the most exciting trip DOWN was when Cooper and I rappelled from the top.
The trick to rappelling is to lean back…and trust the rope! Which is the exact opposite of what you are inclined to do. You want to lean in and hug the rock wall. But when you learn to trust your rope…your tikvah…it can turn what might be a terrifying descent into a highlight of the hike.
There is much that is frightening…terrifying even…about our present situation. Our tendency is to want to hug the rock…to cling desperately to whatever little outcropping we can find. Hope…biblical hope… tikvah-type hope… suggests a counter-intuitive and slightly terrifying alternative: trust that our hope is anchored firmly in the Lord. If we believe that…if we believe that we are tethered to our great God…then it can actually turn these moments of fear into a time of exhilarating trust. A time in which we say, “Lord…not only am I not going to cling desperately to any little finger hold I can find…I am going to throw myself backward, trust in your “tikvah” and expect to be thrilled.
Lord, as I lay me down to sleep, please deliver me from the timid, wall-clutching tendencies that steal the thrill of a life entirely entrusted to your unbreakable hold upon me. Amen.