Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Today I was struck by the promise that love “is always hopeful.” Personally, I am not a fan of sweeping generalizations. Words like “always” embody such an enormous promise that, had the words not been found in scripture, I would be much less likely to accept them.
Standing alone, the statement seems radical and unrealistic. Requiring one to remain expectant in a broken and depressed world is a high demand. As a self-proclaimed realist, I’ve found myself on the ugly side of humanity far too many times to be naive, idealistic or blatantly optimistic. And yet, here, the Bible tells me that I am wrong.
Often quoted in marriage ceremonies and fluff ball, romance movies, 1 Corinthians 13 is more of a challenge than it is a comfort. Love is required to be patient. Love is required to be kind. Love never gives up and is always hopeful. Always. How exhausting.
What does it look like, practically, for one to be consistently hopeful in love? Isn’t hopefulness synonymous to naiveté? And of all things, why is hopefulness in love so important?
Hope is believing that there is grounds for a positive outcome, in any given situation. Hope in love is intended to keep us soft, when the world tempts us to become hard, or calloused.
Hope in love begs us to believe that people are capable of good, even when they’ve disappointed us in the past.
Hope in love holds us firm, even when we’re jealous and insecure; fighting demons that should have long come and gone. When we’re doubtful, disillusioned, disappointed and dissatisfied, hope in love keeps us steady, in faith, and where we belong.
When our feelings change, come and go with the tide, hope in love keeps us aboard the boat, or safe upon the shore.
Hopefulness is not equivalent to naiveté, rather, hope sees all things, knows all things and chooses to believe anyway. The reason that hope is so vital in love, is found in the rest of the sentence. Love “…endures through every circumstance,” and it does so by remaining hopeful.
So, perhaps, 1 Corinthians 13 is a comfort after all… albeit, a very challenging one.
Friends. In this season of love, peace, joy and cheer, there will be many opportunities for you to be tempted to give up hope. Occasions will arise where love and kindness require more of you than you may be willing to give. Don’t allow humans or happenstance to steal the one thing that makes the uncertainty and unknown both bearable and beautiful.
Take heart, and have hope, always.
(And in case I don’t see you… Merry Christmas!)