Who’s Afraid of a Little Bit of Hope?
Have you ever met anyone (or maybe you recognize yourself in this a little bit) who is afraid of hope?
Why would someone be afraid of hope?
In the religious sense I struggle to understand this viewpoint because hoping in God has been such a constant in the experience of my life. But I do understand being skeptical of hope on the human side of things, which is so many peoples’ frame of reference in dealing with God.
People have been let down by other people, and when God is simply viewed as the biggest person around (which He is not) then it makes sense that it would be hard to hope.
I think this is the prevailing atheist viewpoint – that God is just like a big guy in the sky they could choose to help you out or not, love you or not, follow through or not, with all the capriciousness of the Greek and Roman pantheon, who exemplified the worst of humanity in so many ways.
God is not trustworthy when we just make him another person.
But God is not another person.
He is outside of time, outside of the limitations of a created being. What he is he always is, because he is eternal and so he cannot, by definition, love us in one moment and reject us in another. His love, mercy, and justice are not swirled together with any kind of faults the way that our human versions of these virtues are.
God is all good, all the time.
But they remain many who are afraid of hoping in God because their hearts bear such wounds from hoping in humans. Their souls grow scaly and impenetrable and they begin to find it virtuous to not allow oneself to be hurt by hoping again. A shuttered heart seems like a safe heart. So they close up the blinds and post a sign like so many homes have to brush off solicitors: “No hope needed here. Move along.”
Sometimes it can feel like virtue to protect ourselves from truly hoping in God because then we cannot be hurt. It’s one of the many challenges of applying what we know from relationship with humans to our relationship with God, and one of the places where the comparison breaks down.
There are absolutely times when it is vital to our health and safety to cease to hope in another person, but such a time will never come with God. He is incapable, by definition of who he is, of being unworthy of your trust.
If he is ever worthy of your hope he is always worthy of your hope.