As a person who expects life to be hard, hopelessness likes to knock at my door. I wonder, Will this problem get better? and my first thought is, Probably not. I’m not talking about a clogged drain or a head cold, but ongoing struggles I’ve already put time and energy into without marked progress. If people could see my thoughts, they might call me negative. They might say I don’t believe in myself. Or God.

Negative people are thought of poorly in society and called out in church as lacking faith. Optimists are praised and considered to have more faith. Have you been told your struggles are because you’re not positive enough? If you have, I’m so very sorry. Optimists are not better people. They just had enough positive experiences early in life for their brains to expect the pattern to continue. Negative expectations just are (they are not immoral), but they pose a challenge when it comes to hope.

Don’t get your hopes up.

Be realistic.

Don’t be foolish.

Get your head out of the clouds.

Who do you think you are?

Expect nothing and you’ll never be disappointed.

Have you heard any of these bits of advice? Do you use them? The problem with these methods is they kill desire and desire is the first part of hope. No one hopes for things they don’t want. So how can you be a person who hopes in the Lord if you’ve killed off all your desires?

Sidenote: I thought Christians weren’t supposed to have desires? Or at least not pursue them. That’s selfish. Aren’t we supposed to deny ourselves? Take up our crosses?

I’ve heard all that too, but I know God built us with desires at our deepest level – our foundation, if you will. Kids are a vibrant bundle of desires unless the world has been very cruel and they learn it’s too painful to feel desires and go without. God asks us to be like kids. She asks us to look to Her for good gifts.

God built us with desires at our deepest level – they are our foundation.

So how do you feel about dredging up desires? What about naming them or feeling them? Paul describes what feeling our desires is like:

Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. Romans 8:23-25

The truth is we have desires and letting ourselves feel them is the first requirement of hope. The Bible says hope involves waiting and groaning. Longing for something, yearning for something, when you struggle so much to believe good things will happen for you, can feel like torture. But our desires keep calling to us, asking us to hope again. And if we look inside, we find a stubborn flicker of hope is still there. Glory be.