When I wrote my first book, Remarkable Faith, I felt like I had made a pioneer discovery. I saw a pattern in the gospels that demonstrated a biblical truth, and I wanted to share it with everyone. Like a child wide-eyed over a fossil dug from a backyard sandbox, the matter of faith as dependence rather than performance had always been there. But I was just discovering the vivid illustrations in the people Jesus met.
Writing my second book, Remarkable Hope, was more of an investigation. Not so much, “Hey! Look what I found!” but more “I wonder why that is?”
The apostle Paul wrote to his friends in Rome, “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12: 12). Faithful in prayer and patient in affliction, I understood. Keep praying and trust God in the hard times. But “joyful in hope” struck a dissonant chord, like a toddler banging on the bottom three keys of a piano.
If we’re called to be joyful in hope, I wondered why I inwardly rolled my eyes when I said, “I hope so.” Hope sounded more sarcastic than joyful. “I hope so” felt like ineffective fairy dust sprinkled on an impossibility.
I went to my Bible to discover true hope, to learn from the folks who saw Jesus face-to-face and still experienced severe disappointment, even despair. It didn’t seem to harmonize.
My own usage of the word “hope” was throwing me off. My definition was the eye-rolling, doubt-filled sarcastic verb I had been employing.
I hope I don’t get sick.
I hope we make it on time.
I hope it doesn’t rain.
Much of the time I ended up wet, late, and sneezing. In my mind, hope was more akin to doubt than joy.
But biblical hope, the kind written about by Paul, Peter, and John is active waiting for a good future you can count on. Its fulfillment is not predicated on weather or timing or health. It is held in place by Jesus’ finished work for us. His timing, purposes, and plans are sometimes confounding and, in our minds, disappointing.
Even people in the gospels—who met Jesus, who ate with him and hosted him in their synagogues—even they experienced differing degrees of disappointment. But after studying eight of those people, I can confidently declare with the apostle Paul that “our hope does not disappoint us.” (Romans 5:5)
Remarkable Hope: When Jesus Revived Hope in Disappointed People, is the result of that study and reflection. It retells the stories of eight hopeful people in the Bible who appeared—at first—to be disappointed by Jesus. Their stories reveal a pattern of being surprised by him in drastic ways. As we observe Christ’s faithful commitment to them, we will be wowed by his unseen plan and revived by his enduring presence. With unexpected methods and surprising gifts, Jesus transforms disappointment into the certainty of remarkable hope. Not only for them, but for us too.