I’ll always remember the first time I laid eyes on that sign. It was a cold January evening, and I happened to be taking an alternate route home from work to avoid some kind of traffic backup. As I drove along Mt. Hope Avenue in Rochester, it was dark and snowing a little bit. I was tired, teary-eyed, missing a place that felt like home, missing a friend… just plain homesick. Rochester wasn’t home yet, as kind as everyone was.
Sitting at a red light, I just happened to look up and spot this sign. I had to look about three times, because I couldn’t believe what it said. Hope Lifts Our Hearts. What? I honestly thought I might have been seeing things, but no, there it was. All up and down the street, these little yellow metal signs. My tears mixed in with laughter as I sat there and took that message in. I managed to stick my arm out and snag a grainy iPhone picture before the light changed, because I didn’t want to forget that. I had, in fact, momentarily lost hope. In a new city, no friends, finding my way in a new job within a new organization, overwhelmed by the details, I had, in a moment of exhaustion, lost hope.
Recently, a friend reminded me of a verse from Romans 12 that I had been hanging on to prior to our move to Rochester. It reads “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer”, and is part of a larger passage of encouraging instruction from Paul to the Roman believers. Joyful in hope. If you’ve got hope, joy is not far behind, because that’s what hope does – it offers vision and the possibility of what might come next.
We hope for a lot of things – we hope to fall in love, we hope to marry someone, we hope to build a family, we hope to find meaningful work, we hope for an end to conflict, we hope for good health, and we hope for all of these things to go off without a hitch. And there’s the rub – because often, there’s something messing things up. We live in an imperfect world where relationships go awry, babies don’t happen quite as easily as we hoped, perhaps our chosen profession doesn’t offer what we had wanted, or our health takes a left turn unexpectedly. It is so easy to allow these things to cloud out hope and joy as we grieve the things that didn’t work out the way we would have liked.
In a few days, I will celebrate Easter along with Brian, Josh, and our church family, and millions of Christ-followers around the world. If you want to think about the ultimate hope, look no further than the events of Easter. A man named Jesus, who some hoped would be an immediate rescue for Israel, died a violent and awful death. Some of his friends and family lost hope until they learned that He had miraculously beaten death and returned to life. Not only that, but He did it all for the love of every human ever created, so that we could have the hope of eternal life in heaven one day. Hope is a precious gift, no matter what it is that we are hopeful about – but the hope of heaven, that’s a sure thing for Christ-followers, and that’s beautiful. There are days in this life when I think about our hope of heaven and long for that day to come soon.
Hope Lifts Our Hearts. Hope lifts my heart. Every day.