INTRODUCTION: We all have hopes: I hope I can go on vacation next summer. I hope our team wins. And then there are hopes like these: I hope the biopsy comes back negative. I hope he comes home soon. We hope for good things to happen and for bad things to not happen. Hopes are how we plan, dream, and envision a happy, successful, and good life. We need hopes! They bring joyful anticipation and necessary comfort to the ups and downs of living.

Hope itself, though, is difficult to define or explain. Life gets overwhelming, and our hopes die. Good things aren’t happening, and bad things are. We don’t know how things will or should end, and even if we think we do, there’s often no clear pathway to travel. This is when we realize that Hope is different from hopes. We discover that Hope invites us to have an openness to all sorts of possibilities. Hope is an attitude and stance we choose to accept, as we remember God’s faithful love.

In Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer, David Steindl-Rast writes: “There is a close connection between hope and hopes, but we must not confuse the two. We set our hopes on something we can imagine. But hope is open for the unimaginable. The opposite of hopes is hopelessness. The opposite of hope is despair. One can cling desperately to one’s hopes. But even in a hopeless situation hope remains open for surprise. It is surprise that links hope with gratefulness. To the grateful heart every gift is surprising. Hope is openness for surprise.”

Hope asks us to hold the tension of both/and: to dream our hopes and to live by our Hope, to hold our hopes lightly and allow Hope to surprise us with unimagined possibilities.


Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen?

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Romans 8:24 & 15:13


  • Spend some time reflecting on this week’s scripture and the quote above. Are there any words or ideas that especially resonate with you or challenge you?
  • Create a Hope Place—a place you can go to pause and center yourself in both your hopes and Hope. You might choose a favorite chair, a place by a window, a guest room for privacy. What do you need that lifts your heart as you sit there? A candle? A special book or picture? A cozy blanket? A keepsake?

  • Draw two large circles on a piece of paper. Fill one with your personal hopes in whatever way works for you, such as using words, images, colors, shapes, etc. Fill the second circle the same way to show how you envision Hope. What differences and similarities do you see between hopes and Hope in your circles?


My Lord God,

I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end.

nor do I really know myself,

and the fact that I think I am following your will

does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you

does in fact please you.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,

though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always though

I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,

and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. Amen.

Thomas Merton