Wishing and hoping - Hope 103.2

Wishing and hoping

By David ReayThursday 5 Jan 2017LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Psalm 130:5-8

5            I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
                 and in his word I hope;
6            my soul waits for the Lord
                 more than those who watch for the morning,
                 more than those who watch for the morning.
7            O Israel, hope in the Lord!
                  For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
                  and with him is great power to redeem.
8            It is he who will redeem Israel
                  from all its iniquities. (NRSV)

There is a difference between wishing and hoping. Let Eugene Peterson spell it out: “Wishing has to do with what I want; it extends my ego desires into the future. Hope has to do with what God is planning to do; it arises out of faith rather than ego. We cultivate hope when we refuse to fantasize about what we want and rather live in anticipation of what God is going to do next.”

The psalmist waits for a future that he cannot predict. Being human, we could imagine he had all sorts of ideas about what he would like to see happen in the future. We can’t help but have some wishes for the future, but we dare not let these wishes become confused with hoping for God to act. He may or may not choose to act in accordance with our wishes.

We don’t wait for God with the assumption that one day he will grant all our wishes. We wait with the assumption that he will do good and love us through whatever happens. This is not a prescription for misery or fatalism. We trust that God is not bound by our wishing, that he is not at our beck and call to serve our every desire. Rather we trust that he can run the world and shape our own lives better than we can.

Even so, as we wait on God there is no harm in sharing our wishes with him: he knows them anyway. Just as long as we don’t confuse that wishing with hoping.

David Reay