Of all of the things that God asks of us – faith, prayer, loving our enemies, community, following his will – I think hope can be the hardest.

Hope is the hardest in the midst of suffering.  

Hope is the hardest when everything around you is dark.

Hope is the hardest when there is nothing – and I mean nothing – that you can do.

I had a a group of incredible women back in Michigan who were my best friends.  I could be myself with them and they could call me out on my sin, and I theirs, and we could be honest and vulnerable with each other.  Even though they were, and still are, my best friends, I often felt out of touch with them.  They were all married, with kids or the prospect of kids on the way, and I often felt like I was left out.  I couldn’t understand what it was like to have to share a bed with a cover hog, or get up in the middle of the night to feed a screaming baby.  I didn’t get what it was like to live side by side with another person and share life together.  Without meaning to at all, I felt alone.

And alone is where hope is hard. 

Fast forward a few months, to when I had moved to another state for a job.  I heard from one of my friends one day that she had suffered a miscarriage, while the rest of that group was pregnant.  She called me one night, and I’ll never forget her words as we cried together.  “I get it now,” she said. “I get how hard it was for you sometimes.”

She, like me, felt on the outside.  Her happiness and her hope had been smashed to bits, and the friends she could share her brokenness with were all happy and pregnant and hadn’t just felt their world crash around them.   No matter how much they tried to understand, to sympathize, to mourn with those who mourn, my friend still felt alone.

That’s when hope is hard.

When you feel like you’re alone.  When you think no one understands, or no one wants to hear about your pain, your suffering.  When you keep it all inside.

Hope means that we aren’t alone.  Even in the middle of a desert, God is still there.  

But hope is easier when we can talk about our pain, our past, our suffering.  Because then we can hope together.  We can remind each other where our hope is, and where it comes from.

No matter where you are today, what you are suffering, there is hope.  Hope in the One who is faithful, from generation to generation.

Stand in hope with those around you, grieving with those who grieve, being joyful with those who are joyful, and being in community with those around you.

Open your mouth, but open your ears too.  Listen to each other, and pray for each other.  For our hope is not in one who is temporal, but One who is Eternal, Everlasting.

This hope is an anchor for our soul.