Spiritual Reflections

The Prejudice of Hope

I sat beside her bed, hesitant and confused. I loved my mother, yet I didn’t know what to say. I want her healed. I want her restored. I wanted to see a miracle. I wanted for her to be back to normal. I believe in God, in His words, in everything good and wonderful about Him. Yet I stayed there, unable to say anything. It’s one thing to have faith in God’s nature, to believe in everything He is about and stood for. It’s another to trust in His promises— to hope, not just on what’s about to happen, but beyond what’s about to come.

How often do we mistake our wishes for prayers, and how often do we mistake our prayers as hope? Likely, we tend to pray, not because we hope, but because we are about to let go of it. Bahala na, as we Filipinos tend to say. A hopeful faith hiding our hopeless resignation.

We always say we hope for the best, but most of the time, we barely recognize what it is we’re hoping for.

What is it that we’re hoping for?

When I was a young Christian, I usually can’t tell the difference between faith and hope. They seemed to be one of those abstract concepts that is acceptably interchangeable. “Have faith,” we encourage someone; “Be hopeful,” we tell another. And we smile, our blissful ignorance robbing us from the power that should have been, lost in our lazy attempts for quick spirituality. And many times, in our zeal, we end up giving others hope that is not from God.

Hope can be a very dangerous thing, and we are meant to be responsible planters of it. For hope has a strong tendency to show preference towards itself: it enables the one who hope to reject naysayers, to face critics, to confront the opposition. Hope is a powerful bias of one’s mindset that enables it to effectively filter for the ones that will feed its bias, and in doing so, gain more momentum. And when we allow it to gorge itself with flawed thoughts, hope becomes something fragile— yet it remains prejudiced even as it shatters.

Yet here we see why hope is important for us. In a world that’s constantly bombarding us from depressive news, harsh realizations, and teachings that corrode and erode truths with facts, it is the prejudice of hope that enables us not just to survive but to press forward.

How then can we tell faith from hope? I believe we can best see faith when we make our stand. But when our faith learns to take a step, it gives birth to hope. Hope that marches on, even when the path is difficult and full of obstacles. Hope that pushes us forward, even when the darkness covers the road and we seem to have lost our way. Hope that propels us to grab on rocks and climb the sides of a mountain, not because we believe we can do it, but because we believe that what we’re looking for is up there waiting for us to claim.

Yes, faith compels us to act in our beliefs. Yet hope demands of us to believe in what we’re doing. Hope is that unwavering anticipation that this thing I’m doing is worth it. Hope is that unflinching expectation, not of what could be, but of what will be. Hope is that unquenchable desire to see our faith realized and proven true, not in passive patience, but in proactive obedience to His will. And even when the world offers a better idea, when others come up with a seemingly better solution— this hope in us is too prejudiced for such compromises, knowing full well that what we have learnt to hope will always be the best.

It’s been years since Mama died. Sometimes, I wished I was a bit more selfish, and prayed that she lived a little bit longer. Other times, I feel ashamed for not hoping enough for her. But I found hope that someday, I’ll get to see her again— in a body freed from sickness and death, her mind no longer broken, and she’ll be singing joyfully in His presence again. But more than that, I have hope that when I come home to my Father in heaven, I will no longer carry around my regrets to shamefully present to Him, but offer Him a story that He can be proud of. Not just a story of my life, but a story about this wanderer who found his hope in Christ alone.

Nothing else matters but His glory, and nothing less matters than His glory.

That is the prejudice of my hope.

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