The prophet Garth Brooks once said “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.” In that old classic. The song he sang about running into his old high school fling, realizing that all those years he had begged God to give him that girl as his wife. He bumped into that girl years later. Both of them recognized they had dodged a bullet, and that he had actually married the perfect wife for him. (Of course, he would divorce her 11 years later to then marry Trisha Yearwood, but hey, this is a spiritual blog, not a celebrity gossip blog so we’ll move on…)
But the point still stands. Sometimes, the very thing that you beg God for, turns out to be the thing that might have ruined you. The very thing you had put all your hope in, turns out to be the thing that leaves you holding the bag.
What you think is a door of opportunity turns out to be a trap door.
That’s the trouble with hope. If you put your hope in the wrong thing, if you bet on the wrong horse, eventually, you’ll see your hope was misplaced, and you’ve gained a few regrets.
Sunday Ben talked about the hope that Mary and Martha had put in Jesus healing Lazarus (the unstated expectation was that it would happen BEFORE Lazarus died – goes without saying, right?). Their hope on its surface seemed like a solid choice. But the reality is, Jesus already had a plan, and that plan involved a different timeline, and furtherance of Jesus’ ministry, not just relief for Lazarus and his sisters.
Paul wrote that three things abide: Faith, Hope, and Love. Everything else will fade, but these three things. But those must be properly placed to be lasting. If you hope in something fleeting, then it won’t last because the object of your hope is itself going to be gone someday.
One final point. When the Bible uses the word hope, it isn’t in the same sense we use it today, like “I hope I win the lottery.” This word is always used in the sense of a sure expectation. More like, “I’ve worked all week, and I’m hoping for my paycheck Friday.” Well, today, maybe for some of us that’s closer to the lottery ticket probability, but that’s a different issue. Let’s use tomorrow’s sunrise instead. “I’m having a rough time today, but I’m hoping in tomorrow’s sunrise, to start a new day with a clean slate.” Or even better, my hope is in Jesus, who will set all things right in His timing.
Where you place your hope, your assured expectation, matters.