“Overflow with Hope” Devotional | April 6

Each Monday during this season of remote living and learning, the Chapel Office is sharing a devotional written by a member of the Gordon community.

When it Hurts to Hope
By Jessica Vandervort ’20

I wonder what it was like for the disciples on that Saturday following Good Friday, to think back to the days that had just passed. Imagine for a moment that you are Peter, knowing that the last thing you said to your best friend was harsh, and now knowing you will never see them again. Imagine being John, or James (“If we had just known it was the last night all together, we never would have slept—we would have willingly pulled that all-nighter for him!”). Did you know that they couldn’t even all be together on that Saturday? They also must have felt isolated, distanced, apart, lonely. Imagine that Saturday: the very thing you had hoped for all along is dead.

For many of us, our present situation can feel an awful lot like Easter Saturday. We miss our friends, we weep over whether we will ever be able to make memories with them again, and we are desperately trying to cling to a hope that seems further and further away from our grasp. Has it ever hurt to hope?

Scripture says that “we have this hope as an anchor for the soul” (Hebrews 6:19) and “faith is confidence in what we hope for, the assurance of things unseen” (Hebrews 11:1). But for many of us in this time, we are struggling with the idea of hope, as everything around us falls to the wayside. Things we had (often subconsciously) put our confidence in—senior thesis presentations, weekly meetings with advisors, roomie dates, Bible studies, classes, hugs, Golden Goose, even graduation—are gone. All of these have been those “unseen things” we have been confident in for so long. Now it seems like everything we hoped for has been taken away—that hope itself has died. 

But perhaps we—as a world, a nation, a generation and even as a community of the Body of Christ—have been putting our confidence and hope in the wrong things. The very fact that many of us have been so crushed by all of this—that our hope has wavered, dwindled, diminished—is because we have put our hope and confidence not in the eternal timeline of God but in the earthly timeline of humanity. We have, perhaps, become a bit too comfortable in our routines. We have forgotten the promise of Proverbs 27:1: “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” Does this not strike a chord? Have we not done so? Have we not begun to put our confidence in the idea of knowing what tomorrow will look like? I know that I very often have.

But what would it look like to regain that hope? To redeem it? To take a word that may be momentarily painful to hear and make it once again our watchword, our encouragement, our banner, our song? Perhaps it would take returning to the words of the simple hymn, “The Solid Rock (My Hope is Built on Nothing Less)”:

“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus’ name.”

What would it look like if we were to trust wholly in his name? What would it be to base our hope ONLY on Jesus and absolutely nothing less? What if our confidence was not in what tomorrow would hold, but in who tomorrow is held by?

Think about it: we woke up today, alive. We sat up and took a breath. We talked to a friend over Messenger or took a class over Zoom. Maybe it was uncomfortable or unnatural. Maybe it was disappointing or unfulfilling. Maybe it was frustrating or seemingly unfair. But what if we looked at it from the other point of view? We are still taking that class. We are still talking to those friends. We are still waking up for another day. There are people who will not be able to say those things today. There is no promise that tomorrow these same things will be true. But his promise still stands: Great is his faithfulness.

For many of us, it may be truly painful to hope for what this now very uncertain future looks like, but in the process we have the knowledge that God knows our pain and holds us close. He is the one who holds tomorrow, and he does so knowing both the temporary pain and the eternal worth of this time in our lives. He has not forsaken us, even in these unforeseen days. “For I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you, will carry it through to completion on the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:6)! In the process, as we rebuild our confidence in the things unseen, I am confident that we will also see a renewal of hope, a restoration of those four little letters to their former place of worth. Let us continue to hold onto his promises, even when it hurts to hope.

Looking for some encouragement during these uncertain times?

The Gordon worship teams have curated Spotify playlists full of hopeful and uplifting worship songs for the Gordon community.