Monday, June 13, 2011

Hope-full or Hope-less?

by Suzie Johnson
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.
 ~~ Isaiah 40: 28-31

courtesy of  vivekchugh at
Years ago, my church showed a series of lessons presented by Landon Saunders. Though I don’t remember much from the series, I do remember the one thing he repeated several times throughout: Never give up, never give up, never ever, ever give up. 

Most of us are probably familiar with the children's book The Little Engine That Could, and the phrase that precious little train engine told himself over and over: I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

Those two phrases have something very basic in common: Hope.

Hope is the word which God has written on the brow of every man.  
~~Victor Hugo

Not long ago, The X-Factor held auditions in Seattle. For those who don’t know, this is a singing competition that will debut this fall. Thousands of hopeful people stood in line for hours for the chance to audition.
courtesy of RAWKU5 at
On the radio a day or two later, a talk-show host mentioned it. But he mentioned it in the most judgmental, elitist way. Apparently he saw a woman being interviewed by a news reporter while she was standing in line. The woman makes $9.50 an hour, and was excited about the possibility of getting on the show and leaving that job behind in the hopes of earning a living doing something she loves.

Mr. Radio Show Host…let’s just call him John…had several things to say about this woman, none of them flattering. Then he went on a several minute rant, calling The X-Factor hopefuls (and any other talent show hopefuls) “pathetic people that make $9.50 an hour”. In John’s opinion, “these poor people, vulnerable to strangers, with the hope of getting out of their $9.50 an hour job, should give up hope. That way they’ll never be disappointed.”  He also went on to say, “Never will you find a bigger collective of people hoping against all hope. It’s just a big sad-fest.” John also had a few choice words to say about the producers of American Idol and The X-Factor.

I was taken aback by his open ridicule of this woman and the other contestants, and especially the fact that she “only” earns $9.50 an hour. Since John hosts a radio show, someone should remind him that in his own state of Washington, minimum wage is less than $9.50 an hour. A lot of people make minimum wage or just above it. Should all of those people give up hope of ever making more than minimum wage? Should they accept this guy’s opinion that they are pathetic and just give up?

I’m not sure what he meant by “they are condemned to this life,” but John also had these words of wisdom to impart: “If you expect nothing, you won’t be disappointed.” “Only when you give up hope will you have a joyful life.” “When you are drowning, you don’t reach out to another drowning person and grab on to their flailing arm.”

Nice guy, isn't he? I couldn't disagree with him more, and I certainly hope John doesn’t dispel this same message of hopelessness to his wife and children.

courtesy of stevekrh19 at
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” ~~Proverbs 13:12

Can you imagine living in a world without hope? What does that even look like? I picture extreme darkness with nothing to look forward to. No flowers, no cherry trees, no scent of lavender or lemon, no beaches, no laughter, no music, no books, no one to love, and especially no Jesus.

Because, after all, Jesus is the very center of our hope.

Without Jesus, and the hope he brings, what would our days look like? What would keep us going, day in and day out? What would we have to look forward to?

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” ~~Hebrews 11:1
courtesy of robby_m at
Where do you fall in the hope-full or hope-less category? Do you wear your helmet of hope? ~~I Thessalonian's 5:8

Do you agree with John’s opinion that talent show hopefuls should just give up? Do you agree that we shouldn't have hope? I've heard Debbie Macomber say several times, “Dare to dream big dreams.” To me, dreaming big dreams is the same as being hopeful. Do you dream big dreams?

Suzie Johnson has won several awards for her inspirational novels (writing as Susan Diane Johnson), including the Maggie, Lone Star, Heart of the West, and Beacon awards, as well as finaling in the Touched by Love, Finally A Bride, Linda Howard Award for Excellence, and Virginia's Fool For Love contests. She is a member of ACFW, RWA, and is a cancer registrar at her local hospital. The mother of a wonderful young man who makes her proud every day, she lives with her husband and little kitten on an island in the Pacific Northwest. And although the beaches are rocky instead of sandy, lined with Madronas and Evergreens instead of Palm trees, and the surf is much to cold for wading, it is still the perfect spot for writing romantic fiction. You can visit her blog, Suzie's Writing Place at


  1. I certainly do not agree with Mr. Shock Jock. If I did, I never would have tried to write a novel. Much less get it published.

    He must be a miserable guy who has had his hopes dashed a time or two. It's kind of sad that he has given up on hope. He's reached the maximum of his potential and influence. He must have nothing to look forward to. Nothing to strive for. Nothing to grow into. Kind of an unhappy way to live. I can't imagine what joy he finds there.

  2. Hmm...I wonder if John is Buddhist or New Age. That kind of sounds like the lose all desires to reach Nirvana kind of thinking. But sad either way.

  3. I don't know. I have mixed feelings. If you have a family to support, minimum wage doesn't go very far. Sometimes it seems like those with the greatest hardships are always looking for the easiest way to get ahead--like spending half their check playing the lottery.

    I guess it really depends on the character of the person pursuing the dream, and their motivations. Someone hoping to get rich writing the next best-seller is likely to meet with more disappointment than the person realistically learning craft to pursue a writing career.

    Then again, if it doesn't cost anything to audition, why not?

  4. The DJ is probably being extreme for a reaction. That's his 'hope'! I 'hope' he's not that much of an idiot, and just showing his own insecurities.

    Wow, that Victor Hugo dude was deep, man. Deep.

    To combine the 'big dream' and the practical aspect, I've heard this - keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars. Was that Casey Kasem, or someone? :)

  5. Interesting thing about the radio guy, Lisa - he used to have his own TV show in Seattle. It was several years ago, maybe 20 years ago or so. He was young, and I could never get over the fact that he didn't smile. Not only didn't he smile, but he had a permanent frown on his face. I've only ever seen one other person with a permanent frown and I was always kind of fascinated by it (in a sick sort of way, I guess). It is sad to think why a person's face would be permanently etched into a frown.

    He was just filling in for my regular radio show guy, and I hope he never comes back.

  6. Dina, the things he said kind of reminded of that Nietzche (sp?) guy.

    On this same program, John said Prince William was so ugly, the only reason Kate could possibly want to marry him was for the money. ??? Good thing he wasn't taking phone calls - he probably would have been slammed by a lot of people.

  7. Barb, I guess that's kind of where that "realist vs dreamer" debate comes in. I think you have to temper those dreams with a sense of reality. Never give of hope, never keep trying, but be realistic in knowing it also takes hard work and that you can't sacrifice your family or your paycheck in the process. Maybe that's where listening to the Holy Spirit comes in?

  8. Deb, see previous comment re Prince William. I think he was so serious in what he said. This is not a "shock jock" type of radio station.

    Yes, Casey Kasem said that! I used to listen to him every week when I was a teenager. :-)

  9. Ack! I almost bit my tongue when I read that someone called Prince William ugly. Pul-eeze! That's like saying Diane looked like a hag.

    I'm a dreamer and so glad of it because it's the only way I got through my childhood as sane as I am. (No comments from the peanut gallery, please.)

    I've taken Debbie Macomber's words to heart. I dream big because the bigger the dreams, the better I feel and the better I feel, the harder I work toward those dreams.

    But I'm also a realist and know it takes a lot of hard work, disappointment and sacrifice to realize those dreams.

    Excellent post, Suzie.

    Anita Mae.

  10. Wow. People say (and do) the stupidest things.

    Hope is crucial to our faith, and faith is the victory that overcomes the world. As Hebrews 11:1 puts it, "faith is the evidence of things hoped for."

    I think it's at least as important to guard your hope as it is to contend for your faith! One doesn't work without the other.

  11. Anita, I knew that Prince William comment would get you! It got me, too!

    I love your attitude, and it sounds like you have the perfect mix of realism and big dreams. I think the combination, plus your enthusiasm will carry you far!

  12. I totally agree, Niki. Without faith and hope, I would wither up and die.

    And regarding the stupid things he said, maybe I should send him the link to Jan's devotion yesterday. ;-)

  13. Thanks Susie.

    Your post brought the memory of my FIL and his wife to mind. They weren't dreamers. Or maybe it was just her. He was known to buy lottery tickets and play the bar VLT's. A lot. He'd fall for any scammer that phoned or sent him mail saying he'd won something if he only sent them money.

    But I remember us sitting around their table looking at a flyer and discussing what our next TV was going to be. After several mins of Nels and I in discussion, FIL's wife said in exasperation, "Why do you waste time talking about it? You don't need one now."

    I said, "No, but we can dream can't we."

    She spread her hands wide. "What good are dreams. When you need the TV, go and buy one."

    I said, "You gotta have dreams."

    She just shook her head and closed her eyes. One of the kids interrupted then and the subject was dropped.

    They've been gone for several years, but every time I think of her, I always feel so sad. Part of that is because she wouldn't let me talk about my Faith, either. :(

    Anita Mae.

  14. Excellent post, Suzie. I loved the Scriptures. I feel sad for that DJ, because he's clearly out of touch, short on compassion, and speaks for a reaction. Sounds like he's not a happy guy, either.

    I'm a dreamer--I would have given up on writing if I weren't--but I think it's also important to dream small-scale as well as large. It gives me energy.

    Thank you, Suzie.

  15. That is a sad story about you FIL's wife, Anita. I always feel sad when I'm around people who can't see anything good around them.

    But I also feel sad about people who get sucked into gambling and scams. My husband's brother has been waiting for a couple of years for the money he "won" in the "Nigerian Lottery". He just keeps sending them money...

  16. Thanks, Susie. I love the scriptures, too, and I love the one Niki shared as well.

    I'm a dreamer, too. Like Anita said, there have been times in my life when the dreams helped me through. I do have that touch of realism, though, like Barb mentioned. I know its possible to sell a book. But I have to work at it.

  17. Radio guy reminds me of Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day... maybe he feels like he's just living the same day over and over again... maybe he is!!

    Love this post, Susie!! Blessings!

  18. Lol, Cheryl. I like the way you think. That is so funny. :-) Blessings right back at ya!


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