There’s an abandoned house in my neighborhood and I pass it every time I drive out and I drive in, or when I walk my normal exercise route.
It took me a while to notice. Mostly the grass is the telltale sign. It’s not just uncut for a week or two. The grass reaches to my knees before someone runs through it with a lawnmower, mostly for mercy I think.
There are other hints. The lack of cars coming in and out. The missing mailbox. The tiles on the front porch that are stacked up and never, ever move.
It’s surrounded by the cutest bunch of houses all down the lane with well-tended gardens. They have gazebos and bird feeders, wind chimes, and color-coordinated flower beds, porch swings, garden flags and pinwheels. Every house around it looks loved and still this one sits, not just empty—abandoned. That’s how I think of it: Abandoned. I’m not sure if that’s a technical truth; it’s just got the aura of ‘left behind” around it.
A friend told me the house’s sad story, of the family who lived there and of their sorrow. Perhaps it is all just too much to return to this place of memory? Perhaps it is too hard to let it go?
I have entertained myself with big plans about this house: Of the person who might one day fall in love with it and move in. Or maybe one day I’ll even buy it and rent it out to my young adult children. Or what if….? Or maybe….?
There is potential here!
There is still hope!
Maybe that’s the reminder I need in this season as I pray over some requests in situations that seem too far gone. It’s all over now. A hopeless mess. Doomed. Broken beyond repair.
I realize as I look at this lost little house that it would take serious work to restore it. You’d have to wage a great battle against aggressive vines that are threatening to overtake the whole side. And you’d have to cut through the knee-high grass and paint over the cracking trim. You’d have to clear out the overgrown flower beds and plant new life.
That’s when it hits me: Hope takes effort and hope is worth fighting for.
We hope, but if hope is just this passive emotion, just this feeling that we may or we may not have and it can flit away in an instant, then what’s the point of hoping?
Instead, Scripture says:
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure….” (Hebrews 6:19a CSB).
This unshakeable, strong anchor that keeps us from being swept away and overcome is the hope we have in Christ, that He came, that He saved us, that He intercedes for us now and is preparing a place for us in heaven.
So, we hope because of who He is: Jesus redeems. He restores. He revives. He resurrects. He renews.
We might have to fight to hold on to hope, though. It might take effort to maintain hopefulness in circumstances that seem hopeless, but still “we put our hope in the Lord” because “He is our help and our shield.” (Psalm 33:20 CSB emphasis mine).
We put our hope in Him. We renew that hope and tend that hope and rebuild that hope when it’s close to crumbling.
It’s not that we hope for a specific answer or particular deliverance. We hope in the Lord–in His character, in His ability, in His mercy. We know He is able and that we can trust Him to do what is right, best, compassionate, loving and perfect.
I can place needs, worries, fears, conflict, disappointment, dreams all in His hands. Because He will do this:
Yes, I can hope in Him.
That means pulling out the plow and breaking up some hard, stony ground. It means yanking away that overgrown vine and mowing down that too-tall grass. It means tending the garden and replanting with new life. It means pulling out the paint brush and the hammer and the nails and all the tools I can grab to rebuild hope in the places I’ve let it crumble into hopelessness.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13 CSB).