I keep hope tightly wrapped around me now.

I’ve come close, at times, to unwinding all my hope like thread from off a spool.  But the unwinding tends to cause a lot of tangling, knotting, and general emotional mayhem!

Hope does no good all balled up in a wadded mess.

Have you ever tried to get the knots out of a mishandled ball of yarn or a messy bobbin? At best, it frays patience. At worst, it’s impossible.

Hope can be slippery and hard to keep hold of. When your efforts appear to fail or when a victory is followed by a setback, optimism can leak away. Today might look discouraging. Yesterday may have looked that way too.

But hope based on circumstances is fragile and likely to fail.

Too much hope placed in something (or someone) fallible is risky.  But hope placed in immutable, unchangeable, benevolent and transforming love and power is a sure thing. It means you’ll always have something to be hopeful about.

When it seems like all reasons to hope have vanished, you’ve entered a danger zone.

Hopelessness hurts you and everyone around you. The decisions it fosters are rarely the best ones. Hopeless days breed desperation, unbridled emotion, irrationality, and depression.

My sense of hope has been challenged countless times. I’ve often stood at the brink of hopeless, feeling very much like I may as well dive in head first.

One thing that has kept me and many others throughout history from despair is clinging to a specific promise from God. A great example of this is from Joseph‘s life (the guy in Genesis). Joseph had dreams as a kid in which he saw himself in a future position of leadership and importance. He made the mistake of sharing his dreams with his siblings, who reacted by selling him as a slave and telling their father he’d been killed.

I can’t do the story justice by trying to sum it up so briefly, but Joseph’s dreams came true AFTER a long list of tragic events that could have annihilated anyone’s hope. He was seduced by his master’s lecherous wife, falsely accused of adultery, thrown into a dungeon and forgotten for years. Through it all, Joseph held on to the promises his dreams represented. He knew that the giver of those dreams was God Himself.

God kept every promise He made to Joseph. Not only was he released from the dungeon, he was made a ruler in Egypt. He was so full of wisdom and insight after spending many years shut in with God, that he led the nation successfully through seven years of famine. His character, forged in the fire of trial and tribulation, is universally admired. He forgave his brothers and took care of his family.

Joseph’s summary of the whole ordeal is wonderful. It’s something only a ‘hoper’ could say: “As for you, you devised against me evil — God devised it for good, in order to do as at this day, to keep alive a numerous people” (Gen. 50:20, Young’s Literal Translation).

When I experience discouragement or disappointment, I get to make a choice. I can choose to let my hope unravel or I can recount the promises God has made to me. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He still makes promises and He still keeps them. Obtaining one, believing it, and learning to wait patiently for it to show up are strong weapons against despair.