There’s a Latin phrase that I randomly happen to love. Dum Spiro Spero. It happens to be South Carolina’s state motto and its English translation?
While I Breathe, I Hope.
I mean…just…wow, friends. If any phrase was going to be my life motto, it’s this one. And honestly, right now, it feels a bit like a battle cry.
Historically, hope and I have struggled a bit. I’ve wanted to feel it, to experience it, but usually when I did – I was met with disappointment. And for a long time I think I convinced myself that it was better to suppress hope, to stuff it down so that I wouldn’t have to face disappointment. But to deny myself of hope feels more detrimental than the disappointment. We see it plainly in Scripture, even. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”
To fall victim to cynicism and bitterness instead of resting in the hope that we have in Christ Jesus? That’s ultimately done me far more harm than good.
All those times when I chose self-preservation over opportunities to trust Jesus wholly and completely didn’t actually spare me the disappointment of anything. Rather, it hindered me from being able to experience the kind of freedom that only comes with surrender. Surrender to the One who knows my heart better than anyone and who knows the way the story ends. I don’t think it does anyone any good to not feel excitement about things in life and therefore slip further into cynicism.
Is it painful to feel hopeful sometimes? To look forward to something and not have it pan out? Absolutely. But in the process of trying to avoid that kind of hurt, all I do is create a new kind of pain for myself. The pain of cutting myself off from a really good thing prematurely because I didn’t want to run the risk of it turning out badly. Disappointment is a part of life and a by-product of the reality that we live in a broken and fallen world. Vulnerability is scary – terrifying, even – but it is absolutely a necessary part of connecting with people. Things don’t turn out the way we hope they will and people let us down sometimes. But when our true hope is in Jesus and not things of this world, we can experience disappointments and not be crushed by them.
There is, of course, a fine line between putting your hope in something and hoping for something. Sure, I can hope for COVID-19 to run its course quickly and no longer be a daily topic of conversation but my hope is definitely not in that actually happening. Because in all likelihood, that’s not going to happen in the foreseeable future. But my hope can be in Jesus and the truth of His promises because I know those to be the one certain thing in this world.