The great enemy of hope is not despair, it is pride. Despair may be the opposite of hope, but it is not its enemy. Despair doesn’t destroy hope, it simply takes over when hope has been dashed. While many things challenge our hope and would seek to reduce it to a fearful wishing that things could be better, Psalm 131, in calling Israel to put her “hope in the LORD, both now and forevermore,” first show us the negation of pride. And for hope to truly flourish, pride must be removed.
“My heart is not proud,” sings the psalmist, “my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.” The attitude of your heart, the expression of your eyes, the matters you literally “walk after” – thinking that you can surely resolve such weighty matters – all of these must be replaced with the heart, eyes, and activities of a weaned child who is still and quiet in the arms of its mother: “But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
Oh, that we could put our hope in the Lord in such a manner! This is not to say that activity – that an industrious application of the gifts God has given us to the problems that surround us is ungodly in any way. But this tension is exactly where the rub is. You see pride, not being the opposite of hope, can coexist quite peaceably with it for a time. You can be humbly and hopefully striving for Christ in your kingdom work, trusting and resting like a child in its mother’s arms, and have pride subtly eat its way into your heart. And as much as pride infects your heart, rises in your eyes, and sets your agenda, your grounds for hope are proportionally shifted away from the sovereign, good work of a loving God to… yourself. This is the problem: pride and hope are compatible at first, and pride never waves a red flag to let you know it has moved in. And when pride comes, it doesn’t remove hope, rather it simply moves hope from a place of heavenly promise and power to a place where it will surely wither and die.
We live in a world destitute of many things. Hope is oneof them. Let us pray that we can intrigue a lost world by our still and quiet hope. That we can intrigue them to the point that they inquire of us for a reason for the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15). A humble hope; that is just the thing we need. If pride removes hope, humility opens the way for it to blossom. Let us then humble ourselves that in due time God would lift us up and bring great glory to himself through his work in our lives and through us in his world.