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A Posture of Hope

hope-is-a-choice

...the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit…”

Isaiah 61:3

I have been camped out in Isaiah for the past few months working on a paper specifically looking at chapter 61. It has been a good exercise diving deeper into what was happening at the time of this prophecy and how the people hearing it would have reacted.

In the counseling world, hope is a really important piece of our lives. A lot of disorders, at their roots, have a sense of hopelessness - a belief that things will not get better; a belief that this is how it will always be.

For the Israelites, hearing the words of Isaiah 61 after returning from exile, I think a mixture of soothing calm and anxious doubt would have overwhelmed them. “We know you are telling us this will get better and we will be like kings...but our city is destroyed...we have nothing...we’ve been in exile for the past 50 years.”

I often forget the importance of hope. In session, I can listen to the laundry list of terrible pain and hurt each client has faced (and objectively, I have heard some awful lists). Even though I have been around it frequently, it still hits me hard when I can sense the hopelessness in another’s words. “Oh well...this is the way it’s always been…it will never get any better.”

The importance of instilling hope in each other’s lives is misunderstood. We use hope like a quick-fix solution to a problem - “Don’t worry! It will get better!” we say through gritted teeth knowing we, ourselves, do not believe it. We forget that hope is a choice that takes work to foster. It takes a willingness to acknowledge where things are today, and where they could be tomorrow. It cuts cynicism down to size. It is not frivolous and naive; it is realistic and honest.

As we prepare to enter this advent season, and focus next week on being thankful, I want to push my heart into more spaces of hope. Hope for my clients who have been depressed for 30 years...Hope for my friends who have seen more pain than they know what to do with...Hope for the marriages that are crumbling...Hope for the promise that God’s people will be more like his kingdom each day.

Let us learn to practice a posture of hope.