Hope Is Faith Waiting for Tomorrow

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Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. — C. S. Lewis

We all are hopers. We are creatures who cannot stop wishing. We are four-leaf-clover collectors. We wish on the evening star. We tell stories about genies coming out of a bottle to grant three wishes.

After a turkey dinner, my cousin Danny and I used to grab the ends of the wishbone from the turkey and break it in the belief that whoever got the longer piece would get his wish. Where that came from I have no idea. The bone didn’t do the turkey much good.

We teach our children to make a wish before blowing out the candle. When my children were small, they loved the movie Pinocchio; especially they loved a plucky, chirpy, irrepressible character named Jiminy Cricket. If you go to the Magic Kingdom at Disneyland, the “happiest place on earth,” you can still hear him sing, “When you wish upon a star… ”

We all hope.

There is even an anonymous online wish list where people by the thousands record what they’re hoping for — some of the entries are funny, some are scary, and some are heartrending. “I wish to be rich in the immediate future.” “I wish to be very happy because every aspect of my life is going fantastically well forever.” “I wish my wife would die.” “I wish it wasn’t pancreatic.” Many of the wishes are followed by the word please. We just can’t help ourselves.

George MacDonald has said, “Anything large enough for a wish to light upon, is large enough to hang a prayer upon.”

We all hope, but hope comes in two flavors: hoping for something and hoping in someone. Now, when we are hoping for something, we are hoping for a particular outcome. “I hope I get that job. I hope I get that house. I hope I get that girl. I hope I get that girl and she gets that job and we get that house.” Sometimes the thing we hope for is life or death: “I hope this depression lifts.” “I hope it’s not cancer.” But one day it will be. If not cancer, it will be something else.

One day — and this is the truth — every thing we hope for will eventually disappoint us.

Every circumstance, every situation that we hope for is going to wear out, give out, fall apart, melt down, go away. When that happens, the question then is about your deeper hope, your foundational hope, your fallback hope when all your other hopes are disappointed.

Hoping can break your heart.

The difference between hoping and wishing, says writer William Sessions, is the presence of strong desire.1 In the movie The Shawshank Redemption, the two central characters, played by Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, have a running argument about hope. Morgan Freeman has learned to manage disappointment by giving up hope. “Hope is a dangerous thing,” he says. “Hope can break your heart.” To Tim Robbins, though, to quit hoping is to start dying. And the final line of the movie, as Morgan Freeman has left prison and headed for the blue waters of Mexico and the reunion with his great good friend, is “I hope…”

Hoping can break your heart. That is why we carry one big hope, the secret hope you don’t even dare to breathe: that when you have lost the something you were hoping for, and it might have been really, really big, there is a Someone you can put your hope in.

The whole testimony of the Scriptures points to this one Man, points to a God, not because He will be able to give us this thing or that thing we were hoping for — because that’s always going to give out eventually — but because He is the one we can put our hope in. And without hope, as Pope John Paul II once said, there is no faith.

Hope is faith waiting for tomorrow. Faith requires belief, and believing is what we do with our minds. Faith requires commitment, and committing is what we do with our wills. But faith must also have hope, and hoping is what we do in our hearts.

Excerpted with permission from Know Doubt: The Importance of Embracing Uncertainty in Your Faith by John Ortberg, copyright John Ortberg.

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Your Turn

Hopeless is an absolutely defeated word. It means it’s over, there’s nothing left to live for, no joy to be found, no peace for the future. But, hope, hope in Jesus means it might be the end of the road, but He may carve out a new road that we cannot see. He may do what only He can do. And there’s hope! Whom are you hoping in? Who are you trusting even if your heart may be broken? Come join the conversation on our blog. We want to hear from you!

Know Doubt

Know Doubt
John Ortberg
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If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat

If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat
John Ortberg
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John Ortberg

John Ortberg is senior pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California. He is the bestselling author of Who is this Man, When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box, The Life You've Always Wanted and If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat. John and his wife, Nancy, have three grown children.

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