Hope disguised

I think I have been learning a difficult lesson these past few years. Doug and I have had our share of challenge and heartache as a result of different decisions we have made about school, jobs, family and ministry. And I have had a tendency toward an attitude that goes something like this: if I can just get through this specific challenge or circumstance, then happiness is surely around the corner. I have, as I think many of us do if we are honest, linked my happiness with specific external realities. And the fact of the matter is, I don’t see many of these externals changing anytime soon. So either I continue in the pursuit, the expectation of things changing, or I learn a new way of living in the midst of what is, however less than ideal or outright difficult it may be.

Last night Doug’s mom asked us to reflect on hope, her sermon topic for this week. It is the first Sunday in Advent, a season marked by waiting and expectation; a season defined by knowing what it means to hope. I know that I live with so much: freedom, material comforts, and opportunity. And yet I am so easily consumed by the things I do not have: the dreams that remain unrealized; the expectations that are woefully unmet. And I choose to live in the empty spaces rather than deal with what I have been given.

There is a lie in the church that says that God is near when your life looks and feels good. And so we push through the valleys and shadows in our pursuit of God’s goodness and blessing for us. And too often, I am afraid, we miss God in the process. I think that is some of what I have been doing. And so I feel the need for a reorientation: for new eyes that can see mangers and crosses as God-bathed and not get lost in longings for thrones and crowns. Jesus spoke all the time about having eyes to see. Like so many of his contemporaries, I feel like I am at risk of missing the most important things, not out of a lack of devotion or faith but simply longings that miss the mark and deny what God is doing right in front of me.

This is what I am learning right now about hope.

Categorized as Faith


  1. Erika, Good thoughts. And I think they remind me of myself when I was younger. But still I struggle. It’s certainly not like I’ve arrived. Though I do think that through the processes of life, God does a work so that we grow in clinging to the hope that is in him. That this hope more and more becomes our own hope and longing.

  2. i wish that we could have had more time to talk while you were here. God has shown me some amazing truths about community and ministry and what following the life of Jesus really looks like. and talk about hidden hope, i long for the communities that i left behind in texas and colorado. however, i’ve find myself suddenly surrounded by a group of people, here in spokavegas, that are crying out for something more than the legalism and judgement that the church here so often offers. i might be staying a lot longer than i thought. thank you for being a link to a different reality…

  3. Erika, thanks for your reflection. Having eyes to see is so important and it just might be a primary task that we are called to as a Church. Far too often without realizing it we find ourselves bound to seeing as this world sees and not as the Kingdom. The longing for some fulfillment in the future is part of what it means to be human, but the incarnaiton tells us that God is with us in the midst of our humanity and struggle…he’s not only there on the other end like an elusive pot of gold at the bend of the rainbow.

    Part of what it means to live in the West these days is to be conditioned by advertising that purposfully tells us not to be happy where we are. It keeps us buying and it appeases the real god of this age, mamon. We are conditioned to feel anxious when we don’t reach those promised (and in reality) distorted futures that can be ours is we just try harder. If our impulses are not met, we are not happy and that plainly means we are failing according to the american dream…

    The very nature of identifying with Christ is sharing in His brokeness where hope is truly relaized. the question is, are we willing to resist plowing through challenging times in order to meet God?

  4. My two sons are just taking flight into their adult years. As a dad I have told them that the one thing I have learned after all these years of Christ-following is that I was more loved by Christ than I knew at the time. Life can seem so “right on the edge.” It isn’t. Life is mostly about being loved by God. All my plans seemed so “iffy” and all my needs appeared so large. The great reality is that all the time God was trying (does God try or just do?) to get to my soul. I thought it was about other things. Looking back now (I’m 57), I don’t think so much about what did or didn’t work out. I reflect more on how the themes of my life surfaced so God could deal with me and I would quit running and come up with another scheme that would save my life.

  5. John,
    “Having eyes to see is so important and it just might be a primary task that we are called to as a Church.”
    What a wonderful way to speak of our calling as kingdom-seeking, Christ-followers. Thank you.

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