A few years ago, my husband and I went through a rough time financially. Both of us were unemployed and I had just launched a non-profit. It was a difficult time, a discouraging time. But somewhere in the middle of it, I realized that we would never be bereft. We had many resources at our disposal and friends and families on whom we could call. More important than those resources, however, was that we had the privilege of hope. We had the assurance that we would be alright.
Hope is not a given for all. This became apparent to me in a conversation with a young couple. The woman was raised in an upper-middle class context. She knew that she would succeed and do well in life. She knew that many paths were available to her. It was a matter of choosing the one to which she felt called and equipped. Her husband, on the other hand, came from a different background. He grew up in poverty and received a good education through the hard work and sacrifice of his mother. He is talented and has a strong work ethic, but was not certain of the future before him. When they began their life together, the varying perspectives clashed at times. They struggled to understand the point of view of each other.
It is such a gift to live with this assurance that all will be well. Yet as with all privilege, hope can be taken for granted. In our wealth and opportunity, we rely on our resources and our circumstances to keep us buoyed. One author turned the phrase and said we also have the privilege of hopelessness. When we have so much, we forget that it is in God that we hope. Our tendency is to grasp onto things rather than God. We become dissatisfied if God is not giving us what we want. We hold on to these expectations and demand that they be met. We ask “Why do I have this longing, this passion, if God is not allowing me to use it? Is it not from God?” Without realizing it, we experience a subtle shift in the role of God and servant. We believe that we know best and want God to respond accordingly.
It is true that God put us together and created us with certain passions and desires. They are gifts from God! Yet they are given in order that we might enter into the work that God is doing in this world. That is freedom to which God invites us and that is hope—to know that regardless of my circumstances and regardless of future, I can use my energy and gifts this moment to be God’s instrument of love in this hurting world. We are freed from focusing on ourselves and grasping onto what we think will satisfy us. We are free to enter into a work that is much bigger than our small plans and foci. Instead we rest and open our tightly holding hands to relax into God’s faithfulness and goodness. This is the true privilege of hope!