“I hope it doesn’t rain”
“I hope lockdown ends soon”
“I hope we get to see the family”
“I hope I can help”
“I hope I don’t get coronavirus”
“I hope they recover soon”
I’m sure you can add your own ‘hope-so’ to my list above
A number of years ago, when I started to think around ideas for composing the song ‘Our Hope is in you Lord’ I thought it was simply going to be a four-line chorus.
“Our hope is in you Lord
Our hope is in you Lord
Maker of heaven, Maker of Earth
Our hope is in you Lord”
But this did not seem enough somehow. God is the maker of heaven and earth, but how does that impact my every day? As I reflect on these ‘I hope…’ moments and some full of hard-hitting expectations, it strikes me that each of them are dependent on ‘the other’ whether that is the weather, the family, my energy levels, the government, the virus etc… I got to thinking, maybe it’s not simply about what I hope for, maybe it’s about where my hope is placed.
Who do I hope in?
Is their character known? Are they trustworthy?
Do they keep their promises?
Are there any guarantees?
So, back to the song, rather than simply repeating ‘our hope is in you Lord’ and focussing on my hope, I wanted to explore the ‘you’ of where our hope is placed. My explorations took me to creator God, the maker of heaven and earth and to hope in a God who is famous for saving and for loving us. Hope that is secured in a God of justice, the Messiah, and in a God of shalom, wholeness and peace. Hope in a God who can forgive me as I forgive others. This is incredible news and comes with a reminder in the final verse that we are not singing this song alone. We join with the groaning of creation as described in Romans 8 to say ‘our hope is in you Lord’.
If creation is groaning, hoping in God for renewal and restoration, then you and I can look for ways to demonstrate that hope in real time. Again, I am blown away by living signs of hope that surround us, expressions of a hope that motivates some of you to make scrub bags and volunteer in other ways, that overflows in your music and art and permeates your work and home, in simple, unobtrusive ways, even when hope seems fragile.
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Are there any guarantees?
Well experience tells us that we may not receive the guarantees we’re expecting, and you and I also know that for some of our friends, neighbours and family, there are situations bereft of justice, that seem without rescue or are just plain sad or horrific.
That is the creation-groaning world we live in.
But living with this hope I don’t need to be shallow, to ‘paper over the cracks’ or to dumb down the questions, for in this hope I am more ‘real’ or in NT Wright’s words I become more ‘fully human’. Our recent celebration of Easter/Resurrection Sunday insists on this hope. Here is a secure hope, built on the trustworthy character of God. Hope in a love that is tested and proven in Jesus and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit [Ephesians 1:14] Not a superior, distancing hope, but a hope full of invitation that shapes who I am, who we are, and gives meaning and purpose to our days.
Even the days when the weatherman gets it wrong.
Even on days when… [fill in the blank]
There is hope.
Write your own
Maybe you could write your own additional verses for ‘Our hope is in you Lord’ which name other characteristics or expressions of God, or maybe you could draw/paint it or move/dance to it or even make up a brand new song or poem. Come up with some verses to encourage your family or friends or yourself!
It is for your personal use, so thankfully, no royalty or copyright issues here.
So here I send my gift to you of our ‘at home’ version of ‘Our hope is in you Lord’. It opens with a few verses from Psalm 143:7-11 Maybe you could sing along with me and add in your new verses…
Singing with you and with creation in these days, ‘our hope is in you Lord’