“Hope is not a strategy.” A simple statement, but one that I’ve been chewing on the last couple of days. The context that I heard it in was at a seminar for churches on how try to prevent terrorism at your church before it happens. Ya know, the security specialist who has worked in the Israel airport and at the Mall of America in counter-terrorism says, “A lot of churches just ‘hope’ something bad will never happen to them. Well, hope is not a strategy… so you need to have a plan.”
“Hope is not a strategy.” That is so true. In life. In the Christ-following life. In autism life. Now, I LOVE hope, don’t get me wrong. I mean, look at what I named my blog. Hope is so foundational that if it doesn’t exist in the first place, there’s very little you can build upon at all. But, hope is a lot like a little blue pilot light. It must be present before the gas can be ignited that will actually throw out some serious heat. Like a pilot light would never be able to cook your dinner by itself, hope does very little real work without the help of a partner.
Hope Always Pairs Up with Something
Hope itself very rarely just “works things out” like we hope it would. But, when coupled with action and faith, it is a force to be reckoned with. On the other hand, when hope is coupled with denial and fantasy, hope is horribly destructive and it eventually blows out altogether–a very dangerous place to be. Here are some statements I’ve either said or heard to let you know what I mean:
“I hope our marriage gets better.”
“I hope God will pull through and heal my child.”
“I hope autism gets cured one day.”
“I hope I don’t stay depressed.”
“I hope God hears my prayers this time.”
“I hope my child will just get better so I don’t have to get more therapy for him.”
“I hope that rash/lump/swelling/ache/pain will just go away.”
You know what? Sometimes these things really do work themselves out. But a lot of times they don’t. In all of those statements, the most important thing missing is YOU or me. If we don’t take the personal responsibility to partner hope with something of substance–either action or active faith–we’re going nowhere, sister. Because hope is not a strategy.
Granted, sometimes hope needs to be paired with patience, but even true godly patience is active with expectancy because something has already been planted. “Yes, let none who trust and wait hopefully and look for You be put to shame or be disappointed” (Ps. 25:3). The very posture of God-like patience, trust and hope is still active. It leans forward and scans the atmosphere always looking for signs of growth and breakthrough. But notice the proper target of our hope when it comes to spiritual things. It is not in the need being fulfilled, but hope is placed IN God, the person–our Daddy. “And now, Lord, what do I wait for and expect? My hope and expectation are in You” (Ps. 39:7). It’s trusting that His character is that He loves us like crazy and He inherently is good all the time.
Now, when my husband tells me that he’s going to do the dishes, and I say, “Well, I sure hope so.” I really don’t have a ton of confidence that it’s actually going to get done. We need to check ourselves regularly that we’re not pulling the “Well-I-Sure-Hope-Sos” with God. Real, godly hope is not mere optimism. It is expectation that something could happen or change for the better. You’ve got to have it. And you know when you don’t. Like Prov. 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”
Are We Really Heartsick?
I know I’ve been heartsick before, and it’s a bad pit to be in. Often my heart has gotten sick when I have put hope into an actual strategy that ended up not panning out like I hoped it would. We autism parents have got to keep moving, though, don’t we? Who has tried something like the GFCF diet, B-12 shots, a myriad of supplements, Respen-A, chelation, HBOT, NAET, speech therapy, OT, PT, ABA, on and and on and on, and not gotten the results you had hoped for?
I’ve done all these and more, and some have helped more than others. And I will continue to try new things because if you don’t try, you don’t know what you’re missing that really could help. When I try new things that could help my son, hope is activated. I have a strategy, a plan. I’m stepping out and taking a risk, and I’m optimistic that something could help and I’m working it. BUT, when it doesn’t help, I can get more pessimistic and sick about all the work and effort and money that didn’t produce much. I can also take it personally, like I failed somehow. It’s exhausting.
Now, hope paired with fantasy is not cool either. Marital issues, for instance, rarely just “poof” go away without some serious work on both people’s parts. You add a stressor like chronic sickness to the mix, and things come out in you and your spouse that you didn’t even know were there. “I hope it gets better” will go nowhere. But, with an action plan, perhaps some counseling, and practice, you can have a lot more hope that things will change. Are we willing to do the work? Are we willing to stop making excuses and work on ourselves?
When Hope Links Arms with Faith…
What I’m learning more than anything is that I can hope in my God, in His Word, and in His plan more than anything in this fallen world. He is not a man that He should lie. But, we’ve got to “up” our game when it comes to hoping in God. Our own hope arises from desire and expectation, but when paired with faith in our God, we come in agreement with what Jesus has already provided. There is a confident assurance that we place squarely in the the most capable Hands that we can have what’s already ours–even healing for our kids. Hope–that little flame–when ignited by faith IS a strategy. It can release unbelievable, supernatural things. Faith is stronger than hope, but faith without hope doesn’t make any sense at all. Hope, meet Faith, and dance!
NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. Heb. 11:1 (AMP)