Yet, I Still Dare to Hope...
“What if I don’t know how to hope?” She asked reluctantly, although hungry enough for an answer, she was willing to be vulnerable in front of the group.
In a whirlwind of questions, this particular one hung in the air. The table fell uncharacteristically silent as everyone was waiting for the answer.
“Let’s start with what is hope,” we told them.
One answered, “Believing.”
Another said, “Thinking stuff will get better.”
Another, “Like ‘hope you are doing good.’”
Then, from another at end of the table, “Hope doesn’t exist. It’s not real.”
A few years ago when it became evident our name would need to change from Hope Rising, we went to the Lord and waited for Him to provide for us our "white stone" moment - our new name (reference Revelation 2:17).
Back in 2013, when He gave us the name Hope Rising, it was so specific and so clearly from Him. Therefore, we were unwilling to simply choose a new name on our own. We desired to wait upon and hear from Him. In time, He gave His answer.
In our preparation for a class we were teaching on the topic of shame, the Lord directed us to a passage in Lamentations.
“Yet, I still dare to hope when I remember this: the faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease” (Lamentations 3:21-NLT).
"..dare to hope..."
The words leapt from the page! Immediately, we knew He once again had given us a name. This new name marked a new chapter in our story. Hope had indeed risen, and now it was time to step fully into the vision He had set before us.
However, the question lingered - What does it mean to dare to hope?
The writing of Lamentations is commonly attributed to the prophet Jeremiah. To lament is to cry out in prayer for deliverance from suffering. Jeremiah was well acquainted with suffering.
In the twenty verses that precede Lamentations 3:21, Jeremiah gives words to the pain he had experienced:
Affliction. Darkness. Brokenness. Surrounded. Anguish. Distress. Trapped. Unheard. Attacked. Devastated. Torn in pieces. Targeted. Mocked. Bitter. Without peace. Suffering.
One of our precious girls recently said, “I’ve been all of those things. Jeremiah is my brother.”
She knows pain intimately, like Jeremiah. She finds common ground with him. His phrases of lament are hers too. If pain has been the resounding theme in a life, then hope is a courageous act of defiance against the norm. It is a dare.
Hope is tangible and measurable. In its absence, there is a void that affects us on a foundational level.
Hope is the anticipation that the dawn will break through the dark of night. It is believing for beauty even in the midst of the ash heap; resting in joy despite mourning; and knowing heaviness can turn to praise. Hope is believing tomorrow can be different, and things can change for the better.
It is essential, and yet, many of the women and girls we love and serve live in its nearly perpetual absence. Their hearts have been conditioned to believe hope is a dangerous bridge to further pain and disappointment.
Many times, the manifestation of hopelessness is not blatant. Rather, it takes the form of apathy. Statements are wrought with I don’t care or whatever. Hopelessness is not a default state of being. It is a high wall of protection, built brick by brick by difficult past experiences...of rejection and abandonment...of manipulation and suffering.
Hopelessness screams that things will never change. It convinces us that goodness, like love and mercy, are only words on a page. It says hope doesn’t exist, and it isn’t real.
Daring to hope comes in the face of fear, disappointment, and pain. It is rarely instantaneous, more akin to a marathon than a sprint.
It often begins first by rebuilding the ability to trust. Often, people, systems, and even the church have let them down, so, we take small steps. Hope is birthed in the moments of laughter we share; through simple notes of encouragement; through homemade desserts; and even through the courage it takes to ask the tentative, hesitant question of, “What if I don’t know how to hope?”
We cherish those small steps. We keep our promises. We follow through. We keep at the forefront of our minds to be people who are
trustworthy and to be active, living testimonies of hope for them. Then, the door to a far greater hope is opened...the door of heavenly hope.
For our sweet girls, there is beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, and praise for heaviness. Though, it begins with a dare. A dare to believe there is more to life than pain and suffering; a dare to hope in His love as real and truly everlasting.
His heart for them is their hope. It is their healing. It is their bridge from darkness to light and from the dead of night to the dawn of morning.
As they begin to believe His love is real, their hearts are awakened to hope. It all begins with a dare... a courageous act of defiance against what they have always known. Then, hope becomes real for them. Then, they see in fact it does exist.