Hope on Display

As I travel the hope journey, I contemplate the very familiar verse, “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'” – Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB). I began reading that verse in the context of the chapter and realized it was saying something slightly different from what I’ve thought for a long time. Jeremiah is talking to the captives in (Babylon), and he told them that they were not going home anytime soon, no matter what the prophets there said. The land needs the rest from all the Sabbath years that they didn’t allow it to rest. Settle down, he said. Build houses, get married, have babies, bless the land where you are. They’ll go back, but not now. (Full Passage) Talk about hope deferred.

But then he relays what God says, about the plans He has for a future and a hope. In the face of exile, they were to look to hope – 70 years down the road. A hope in a land not their own, driven their by their disobedience and sin. What kind of hope does that look like? How do you hold on to hope in that situation? How do you hope in the face of a broken heart, crushed dreams, pain, despair – I could go on and on. What is the substance of that hope?

So of course, I looked it up. The Hebrew word from Strong’s is 8615, ‘tiqvah’, and it literally means cord, as an attachment. Figuratively, it means expectancy – expectation, expected, hope, live, thing that I live for. So this cord represents my hope – it’s something I can hang on to. I wonder if the phrase, “I’m at the end of my rope,” is rooted from there. Anyway, I went to look up where it was first used (law of first mention, and all that), and became undone.

Image from Tiqvah Counseling, Coaching and Education – https://tiqvahcce.com/

Tiqvah is used 34 times in various forms, and the first of which is in Joshua 2:18. This is the promise to Rahab to save her and her household from the destruction coming to her city of Jericho. The spies said, “…We [shall be] free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household.” (Joshua 2:17-18, NAS). Her faith in a God she barely knew that made her help the spies turned an ordinary rope (Strong’s 2256) into a scarlet thread of HOPE. A hope of salvation from the emptiness and idolatry that surrounded her. A hope of life in the picture of death.

So she sent the spies away, and hung her hope out on display. It was a scarlet thread, not a quiet color, not a passive, fade in the background type of rope. This was easily seen by the spies when they came, easily seen by those who came and went. What was her explanation to those who asked? Was she ridiculed, admonished, discouraged, tempted to draw back her tiqvah?

We know how that story turned out. The spies saw her tiqvah on display, and fulfilled their promise and rescued her. It challenged me, though, about not only hanging on to my cord, my hope, but putting it on display as a sign, a testimony, a promise, a commitment. The Lord has given me a future and a tiqvah – how am I going to anchor it and display it, knowing that He will fulfill it? How will you?

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Trust to Hope

Ramblings from my journal…
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when desire comes, it is the tree of life.” Part of my wrestling is that I am hesitant to hope, having seen many hopes dashed time and time again. But I think the heart was fashioned to always hope – it has to always hope in something. And it has an amazing amnesia of what happened to hope the time before.

Yes, scary though it is, I will trust to hope.

“Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh will also rest in hope.” – Psalm 16:9

Reflections

A friend of the family was hit by a drunk driver and killed a bit ago. Apparently it was a hit and run, not sure of all the details. I got a wake up call, quite literally, from my dad at 6:30 this morning. The only reason I answered it was because he’s out of the country right now and I don’t have a call back number. But after asking how everybody was, he asked me if I had heard (the family friend lives in Texas) had died. I went from barely conscious to quite awake in no time flat. We become desensitized to these things, but when it’s someone you know, however casually, it’s a shock. And even though I didn’t know Steve very well, he was a close friend of my father. What struck me most was how stunned my father was. He mentioned several times that Steve had called him a couple of times, and he hadn’t had the chance to call him back. His voice was so full of regret, remorse and self-recrimination and I felt sorry for him. Steve was a close friend, yet his busy life got the best of him. Life is so brief, such a whisper in the wind, and we tend to live like it’s all we have. What regrets would Steve have had? That’s hard to know – it’s a moot point in any case. But what regrets do his ex-wife and his two kids now bear? What promises unfulfilled, what words unsaid, or wish were unsaid? And good friends, like my dad, what “what ifs” are still floating around in their minds, weighing them down with guilt?

It’s a reflection for me, especially that regret my dad for not calling back. We’ve become so busy in our society, we forget to have time for each other. “I’ll call later” turns into, “I was so busy, I forgot.” We do ‘things’, these activities, and they seem to take precedence over our relationships with each other. But if we were to put a pause button on our lives and look them over, what lasting moments would we find? How often did we choose things eternal over things temporal? What do we value, and how does that show up in our choices in how we govern and spend our time? For me, just being utterly transparent at the moment, I have a deep hunger for true, strong relationships and community, and I keep knocking my head against the busyness that seems to be a high value right now. It’s so hard when everything around us wants 48 hours out of our 24-hour day. But when someone is suddenly gone from my life, or at the end of my own, whenever that may be, the last thing I want on my heart and mind is regrets about how I just didn’t make enough time for those I love and care about.

This life is short, and so temporary – love hard.