“A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strenght it cannot save.”~Ps. 33:17
Every time you reach for one of your excessities, you saddle up a horse of hope. You mount up and ride off toward deliverance. You think that horse of hope is going to help you outrun whatever it is that fuels your excessities, whether it’s loneliness, fear, guilt, anger, discomfort, or anxiety. You hop into the saddle and hope maybe this time it will work. The more often you saddle up, the stronger the excessity becomes in your life, but as the verse above says, despite all its strength it cannot save.
Excessities gain their strength, their hope, from you; you infuse the excessity with hope. Your hopes are only as strong as you are, and the more strength you point into your excessity, the weaker you become. Just as you can run a horse into the ground, your excessities can run your hope into the ground.
Kevin was exhausted. It was a struggle just to get up and function every day. Sleep was elusive and often seemed more trouble than it was worth. He’d wake up in the morning — whatever the hour — apprehensive and anxious for the day ahead. The weight of work responsibilties and the financial realities of his current situation chained him to a sort of emotional and physical lethargy. Kevin felt like all eyes were watching him — his wife, his kids, even his employees seemed to be watching to see what he was going to do and how he was going to make things better. Yet the weight of trying to make things bearable had become unbearable to Kevin. Life was heavy and hope harder to find.
At first, his secretive forays down the interstate to the casino were sporadic, but Kevin soon found he only felt invigorated and alive during these times. Even when he lost money, he still felt the pull of an anticipated win. Afterward, though, on too many drives home, the guilt descended. It just didn’t seem right, somehow, that the only time he felt energized and relieved should be doing something he knew was wrong.
Slowly, Kevin began to equate that weight of guilt with the rest of the burdens he felt, the burdens he resented and had turned to gambling to forget. Kevin began to see his time at the casino as necessary, as a coping mechanism, and, frankly, as the true highlight of his week.
Kevin found himself heading off to gamble more often during the week, sometimes even during the workday. He kept hoping that it would get him through this rough patch in his life and that as soon as things calmed down he wouldn’t need to do it as much. He kept hoping…right up until the day it all crashed around him and he found himself in danger of financial ruin and losing his family.
THE POWER OF HOPE
To understand the true power of hope, I think it’s a good idea to contemplate what the world would look like without hope. It is a world without anticipation, without desire or expectation — a flat, monochrome world with only a single what-is view. First Chronicles 29:15 calls it a shadow world.
Over my time in counseling, I have seen too many people trapped in this shadow world without true hope. I have seen them desperately reach for something — harmful, dangerous, destructive, false — to try to provide some sort of hope in the shadow. Imagine my position — within their world without hope I have to tell them that the one thing they cling to for a modicum of hope really isn’t hope at all. I have to point out the painfully obvious: The hope they cling to — whatever it is — is false hope.
If this is all I did and all I could offer, I wouldn’t do it. It would be too bleak. I praise God, however, that my job isn’t just to point out false hope but to point toward true hope. This is hope that sings with a symphony of desire, expectation, trust, sweet anticipation, and even sweeter fulfillment. This is hope that sings with God’s voice. This is not a shadow world; it is quite literally heaven. And what I get to do is show people the way to find their own patch of heaven on earth, through an understanding and connection to true hope.
Now that’s a job I believe in. It’s why The Center I founded 25 years ago has become known as a place of hope. It is a place where people find the strength and courage to give up their false hopes to discover their true hope. Hope has come to color everything we do, from the name of our website to titles on my books to our theme verse of Jeremiah 29:11.
People come to us riding on the exhausted, failing horses of false hope and leave soaring on the wings of true hope.
Source: Chapter 12, “God Provides Hope” in Gotta Have It! by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, Inc.