Have you ever heard the phrase, “Hope springs eternal!”?
- The farmer plants his fields every season and hopes for a good harvest.
- The golfer heads out again and hopes for a good round.
- The Cub’s fan faces each spring with the hope of a World Series. 🙂
Theologian Martin Luther said “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” Conversely, without it, why put forth the effort to even try to do something? Without it, we are left with fear, doubt, despair, and distrust.
One of the qualities of love listed by the Apostle Paul is that “Love…always hopes.” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Through the course of our ministry we meet individuals and couples going through deep relational pain…and yet they hold out for their future. We also meet those who face similar hurts and have lost all hope.
Anne Lamott wrote, “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.”
What really is “hope” and how do we infuse our marriage with it? How do we guard our hearts from losing it?
For the sake of clarity, lets address what it is not.
Hope is not:
Unrealistic: Hope isn’t wishful thinking. It recognizes when things are hard and it chooses to trust in the future.
Enabling: Hope doesn’t protect from natural consequences of bad behavior. It is willing for things to get worse in the possibility that things can get better.
Without boundaries: Hope doesn’t relegate one to being used, abused, and treated like the proverbial doormat. It is strong, not stupid.
Always fulfilled: Hope longs for what is yet to be realized, but it cannot control all outcomes.
Grounded in God’s greatness: Hope is most realistic when its basis is deeper than a whim. In your marriage you may be going through dark valleys that can seem impossible. But when you lift your eyes from your situation and look to the One who created everything, the One who rules in heaven, and the One who loves you sacrificially, you gain the perspective. You can join with the psalmist who wrote: “Why so downcast, O my soul?…Put your hope in God.” (Psalm 42:11)
Founded on God’s goodness: It is confident that God will be good to us. The Bible declares that “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him….” (Jeremiah 3:25) Ask God to pour his goodness onto your marriage. Ask him to open your eyes to see his goodness at work in you and in your marriage.
In the unseen activity of God: Hope is knowing that even when we don’t see progress in a difficult marriage, God is at work. It realizes that we are not alone, but that God is at work on behalf of our marriage.
Believing the best: Hope is expecting our spouse to succeed. It anticipates and cheers on their accomplishments. It is expressed through our words and actions that what is yet unrealized in our mate’s potential can be fulfilled—and we believe it! You can read about believing in your spouse here.
Keep your focus on what hope IS as you build your marriage!