Hoping Against Hope

Each morning of the workweek begins the same way. I awaken and do a brief metabolism-boosting, heart-rate increasing workout, eat a fast breakfast, and head for the bus stop. Once on the public transit behemoth, I have 40-50 minutes to spend at my leisure, which usually serves as quiet time with the Lord. Whether using the ride for prayer, Scripture memorization, or staring out the window savoring creation, the time allows me to calibrate myself toward the cross for the day to come.

Recently this has been a challenge. For those who don’t know, my life in the last month has been anything but easy. I will not go into the details, but between my jobs, writing, and navigating other hardship, things have been a picture of the old adage: when it rains,it pours. My hope is that April showers will lead to a blossoming May, but this has not been the case thus far. My prayers and Scriptural engagement have been necessary for my survival; and yesterday, while praying for my wife and household, I felt a surge of hope that the coming summer season would be a time of unprecedented flourishing in our lives, beyond expectation.

Now, I am a major proponent of the “Holy Spirit’s whisper”, and while you may not call it that, you know of what I speak: that soft, clear, soothing internal assurance (or exhortation) that hits you and you know is outside yourself. Perhaps it’s the coaxing to offer a stranger help or that inspiration to speak God’s truth in a fertile environment. Maybe it’s that conviction that you should fast from social media for a month or that peaceful instinct that you can return to it and enjoy it freely once again. For Christians of all kinds, the Spirit’s whisper feels different, but it is altogether compelling. We know this because many times when we follow it, God moves in clear ways.

I bring that up because this feeling of coming renewal felt very much like the Spirit, but in the midst of what we’ve recently endured, I almost cannot bring myself to believe it. Fearing further disappointment, I will not allow my heart to hope for such renewal; rather, I plan to be contented with the likelihood of “just getting by”.

What I’ve found fascinating of the last twenty-four hours, however, is not the tentative, if not dismissed, hope of the aforementioned flourishing, but the very real and concrete hope about that hope. I know sentence that bears explaining. I am unsure whether I can trust this feeling of coming joy and renewal to be the whisper of the Holy Spirit, but I am wholly certain that it could be the Holy Spirit, and if it is, then it is true. This matters because it overrides the other hope in very tangible respect, right now, today.

Regardless of whether or not the “unprecedented flourishing beyond expectation” takes place in the season to come, I know every day that the Holy Spirit is here with us, that he can whisper, and that renewal is possible.  The difference is no small one, for this underlying assurance and constant hope it provides is the better one—the everlasting one. If August roles around the summer has had its fair share of hardship, challenges, and disappointments, the daily presence of the Spirit goes unaltered. The fact that the Spirit can renew and will comfort and does counsel will remain as strong and powerful then as it has been even now, throughout the hardship we’ve endured (and believe me, we have needed it). This fills me with hope.

So maybe I felt the whisper of the Spirit, and indeed, this summer will be beyond anything we expect. Or perhaps amidst my prayer, I was playing head games to cheer myself as I approached yet another day at my desk downtown. Either way, I am sure that the Spirit can renew and will do so as God sees fit, and I hope in that with total assurance regardless of how it looks.

And that is a deeper hope for all Believers every single day. I encourage you to live in it, and I thank you for reading.

About C.J.:
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