The embodiment of hope

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13, NIV

God is our source and strength. He is the bearer of hope. All true.

But as I think about the lovely friends God has placed in my life, I’m discovering a correlation between friendship and hope.

GRAPHIC friends are hope

Friends, it occurs to me, are hope embodied. Hopefulness made flesh.

Oh, sure, there are friendships that don’t add hope to your life. Sometimes you’re the one who has to do the lifting up, who helps carry the heavy burdens. Truthfully, it’s part of the give and take of relationship. Sometimes it’s hard, and occasionally it feels like work. But not when shared between yourself and someone else who takes the power and responsibility of friendship to heart.

When you think about the friends who make you smile, who always believe in you, who have higher goals for you, expectations of you, and possess a certainty many levels beyond what you can summon for yourself—well, isn’t there sort of an effervescent hopefulness there? A joy that bubbles up from deep within your soul? A sense of wholeness because they “get” you—even if they don’t agree with you? A comforting rightness born from the knowledge that they’re a fixture in your life?

I’m convinced that friends are gifts from God. And as I look around, I see so many people that didn’t just happen into my life. Sometimes there are coincidences, but more often there are deliberate arrangements. And I know without a doubt that God placed these people smack dab into my life. The friendship renews me. The strength of the bond is unusual. And the joy—irreplaceable and undeniable.

My friends have taught me. Learned from me. Walked besides me and gently placed me back on track. Prayed for me when I didn’t listen to their thoughtful counsel. Lifted me up when my family’s demands were weighing me down. Shared laughter and tears. Chocolate and coffee.

Diane Ackerman said, “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.”

My friends have made my life wide and full.

Among the countless reasons I have to give thanks for my friends, I am mostly grateful for hope. The hopefulness that fills the moments we’re together. The residue of hope that remains after we part. The invisible but unbreakable bonds forged across computer networks. The tenderness God reveals in moments of intercession in prayer. The buoyant joy that bubbles forth into laughter.

The hope. The beautiful, indescribable hope.

God, the source of all hope. The source of our lives and our joy.

But—look. In the mirror. It’s not just you that I see. I see Him in you. And I know He brought you to me to show me how real, present, and pervasive hope can be in my life. And just how beautiful it is.

Kelly Stanley

Kelly O’Dell Stanley is the author of Praying Upside Down and Designed to Pray. A graphic designer who writes (or is it a writer who designs?), she is also a redhead who’s pretty good at controlling her temper, a believer in doing everything to excess, and a professional wrestler of doubt and faith. She blogs at kellyostanley.com and calls small-town Indiana her home.

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3 Comments

  1. I long to have a close friend. I’ve been praying about this for several years. Every time I find someone ,the friendship doesn’t last. Sometimes I meet someone who showers me with gifts and then suddenly disappears. Sometimes as soon as I reach out to someone, maybe ask them to lunch, I never hear from them again. Most of the time I’m the one doing all the calling and inviting. I constantly hear, “oh I’ve been thinking of you, but I’m just so busy.” This is discouraging. Thanks for listening and thank you for writing!

    Reply
    • Hang in there. I used to feel the same way but then I realized that someone has to be the one to do the calling and inviting. I decided that even though it’s hard not to feel rejected and have hurt feelings, it was a sacrifice I was willing to take. (I’m not so selfless—but I have a friend who took this approach with me and I realized that friendship would have gone by the wayside if she hadn’t, so I wanted to do the same thing for others.) Not to make excuses for your friends, but people are busy. It’s hard, and the friends have to be willing to put forth some effort, too. I would encourage you to keep trying. Give people plenty of space and just be genuine and open… and of course, keep praying. God is the best friend we can ask for. I know we need flesh and blood people around too, but use this time to walk beside Him and ask Him to fill the lonely places and prepare you to be the kind of friend you want to find. I will pray for you, too. Take care.

      Reply
  2. Thank you for the encouragement!

    Reply

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