I have the word hanging all over my house. I doodle it. I sing songs about it. And I overuse the word in almost all of my sentences.
Hope. Hope. Hope.
And like the picture above, which happens to be the screen on my phone, the word just looks pretty.
A pretty friend of mine who is pretty dear, sent me a pretty book in the mail the other day. (Let me interject here, too, that the amount of love being shared with me is pretty o.ver.whelm.ing. in itself.) The book? About hope. Pretty beautiful.
I opened the book last night and within only the first few pages was hit square in the jaw with a concept that I had never faced before.
Hope isn’t pretty.
Hope is far more a waiting for something in a hot, sticky mess than it is a peaceful, orderly affair.
Scripture calls Christ in us the Hope of Glory. Jesus’ life was not sterile. He consistently plunged into the unclean places of people’s lives and hearts.
And my favorite, when the author relates hope to those of birth pains and tells of a story of South African women whose culture lends itself to a gathering joining in the groanings of the laboring mother:
The beauty of the wail comes from a deep sense that says, “We are suffering together. We are a bloody, hot, sticky mess, but we will get through this. As we enter the chaos, we have a deep sense that it really will all end sometime. That is our hope.”
Hope is dirty.
It’s sticky and messy. And just downright nasty and yucky on most days.
Because if things are simply beautiful and right, hope isn’t needed. Hope is required and leaned upon in the most sweltering, mind-numbing, groan-inducing times.
Jesus is our Hope.
But had the world been right, He wouldn’t have had to come. And if all were right now, He wouldn’t have to come again. And when He came and when He comes again, He’s coming to save us from filth and grime and the grotesque pieces of a very dirty life.
Hope is filthy. It’s covered in soot and mud and has rolled around in the ashes.
Why else would we HOPE for beauty from ashes?
Yes, I still think of hope being the light in the dark. The rainbows after the rain. The breath of fresh air.
I see hope on the sun-kissed cheeks of my children. In the majesty of the dainty flowers that are tucked behind my ears by the chubby fingers that picked them for me. In the smell of fresh cut grass.
I see hope everytime I look into the face of my husband. And I feel it wash over me as I whisper prayers to the Lord.
Yes, hope is beautiful.
But the grittiness of it might just be more gorgeous.
Because without the dirt and filth and the hot, bloody, sticky mess….how could we ever truly relish in the comfort and peace and perfection that will come when what we are hoping for happens and the chaos ends?
I have physically been in hot, sticky, bloody childbirth labor three times. And each time I thought I would never survive. But I did. And I have absolute perfection times three that stares me in the face every day because I had the hope of the end of that labor.
People can say all day long that childbirth is beautiful. It’s not. It’s a disgusting mess of horror…until. Until the hope baby is seen. And all the tears and sweat and filth are an afterthought because the hope brought forth the prize.
The labor is long for me right now. I’m hot and I’m tired. I’ve been known to scream a time or twenty, and I certainly cry. Waiting on my husband is a hot, sticky mess.
But like the Africans from the author’s story, I’m so blessed with a support system that has chosen a hard road of suffering and groaning with me. They haven’t left squeamish at the sight of the blood.
And I have my Precious Hope of Glory, who has already walked the most dirty, bloody, sticky road of suffering and shame.
Yes, my hope is dirty. Boy, is it.
But, oh, how beautiful the dirt will be….one day.
***All quotes from The Allure of Hope: God’s Pursuit of a Woman’s Heart by Jan Meyers***