Hope is a virtue

My dear readers,

I’m taking the time to sit down and write an update, since I know many of you have been praying for us and many of you have even given financially to help us in our hour of need. And yet we have very little to show for all those prayers and dollars given.

This has been the longest summer of my life, and for more reasons than just lack of progress on our house project. A public blog is not the place to go into all of those reasons. Suffice it to say, it has been a summer of testing in nearly all the virtues God calls us to embrace, and I feel as if I have failed every single test.

Turns out, I’m not the patient person I always prided myself on being, nor the kind, joyful person either. I’m neither as gentle nor as self-controlled as I assumed I was and as for faith, hope and love- don’t ask those who have lived with me for the past several months how well I have succeeded in any of those areas.

Of course, I’ve always been taught that God gives us times of testing to teach us to stop relying on ourselves and our own perceived goodness and to lean more and more on him. And after all this testing, that is just where I am left now- exhausted, spent and leaning. But mostly, the leaning feels more like despairing than actual resting in God.
More than anything else I have seen in myself this summer is a tendency to give up- to despair. I never before knew that hope was a virtue that needed to be practiced like patience or love. But it most definitely is. And I most definitely am not good at practicing it.

But now, hope of an earthly sort revives again.

Tomorrow morning, we have the first work crew coming to start on the house. And instead of being excited, I find myself almost dreading it because of that very virtue- hope.
Hope is painful because disappointment is painful. I have spent many long years building up very thick walls against the hope of ever finishing this darn house. And now, if we are going to move forward, I have to start pulling those emotional walls down so we can start putting physical ones up.

I’ve asked God what to do with this hope that I dread to foster. I know that this is just a mere house- that even if we end up failing in the end, God is still God and he will take care of us. I am constantly torn between caring desperately about it and despairing apathy towards it.
But I found an article yesterday that helped put some things in perspective. It read,

“In order to understand hope, we need to understand that Jesus was and is the God-Man, who calls us to be fully human, even as we embrace the divine. Without Christian Hope, we cannot do this, because Hope calls us to care and yet not to care. Hope says,

“This is not the way it is supposed to be and I care very much.”

But at the same time, Hope says,

“This is not how it will always be, so I will not care too much.”

Hope tells us to work, because there is something to work for- something not yet seen. Hope also tells us to play because there is something to celebrate- something not yet fully known.
Therefore, Hope frees us to work when it is time to work and to play when it is time to play and to do both as acts of worship unto God.
When we work, Hope reminds us to work as children, not orphans, who labor alongside their Father, knowing that there comes a time to leave the fields and go home. Home- where supper will be on the table, where wine will be served, jokes be told, songs sung and friends and family celebrating together. And Hope reminds us that the Father who works with us in the field is the very same Father who provides the meal and sits down to celebrate with us.
Hope gives us this pleasure. Hope gives us this rest. And hope gives us the courage to get up in the morning and head out to the fields again tomorrow.”

So if you think about it, you can pray for us- pray that our work and our play will be just that- acts of worship unto God accompanied by that pleasure, that rest and that courage that the Father gives us by hoping, not in an earthly home, but in Him.

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