Where Are You Setting Your Hope?

I came across a new phrase that I really like in John Eldredge’s latest book, All Things New (which I highly recommend). He wrote about “shepherding our hope.”

I’ve never thought about hope that way, that’s it’s something to be shepherded.

This idea has the potential to very positively transform our relationship with money and what it can buy.

What are you hoping for?

In her book, “The Overspent American,” Juliet Schor cites research noting that 61% of adults in the U.S. always have something in mind that they look forward to buying. I suspect the actual number is higher.

In and of itself, looking forward to buying a new TV or car isn’t some horrible crime. But here’s the danger: It’s easy to allow such hopes to become our greatest hopes. It’s why so many people find themselves running on the treadmill of wanting something, buying it, enjoying it for a while, getting used to it, wanting something more, and then repeating that cycle again and again. It’s tiring, discouraging, and not at all good for our finances. I know all about that, having logged many a mile on that treadmill.

Getting caught up in that cycle is an indication that our hopes are too small, that we’re pursuing false hopes that have no chance of satisfying.

Aiming higher

But sometimes our use of money gets us closer to our true hope. This summer, my family vacationed in Maine. On our first full day there, we climbed on huge rocks along the ocean while strong waves crashed against the coastline. As our 14-year-old took it all in, he declared it to be the most scenic thing he’s ever seen. I can’t begin to tell you how much joy it gave me to hear that.

Here’s Eldredge from his new book:

Some sort of promise seems to be woven into the tapestry of life. It comes to us through golden moments, through beauty that takes our breath away, through precious memories and the hope even a birthday or vacation can awaken…

That promise is God’s promise to make all things new, which Eldredge wonderfully unpacks in his new book.

Our first hope

Hope is one of our most powerful emotions. Most of us have experienced the truth that, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). But my sense is that too few of us have experienced the other side of that coin, that a well-placed hope gives the heart great joy.

Understanding that the deepest joys we’ve ever experienced in this life are God-given glimpses of the far greater joy we’ll experience in eternity is, in my view, one of the highest forms of spiritual maturity and the single highest form of financial maturity.

That’s why it’s so important that we are intentional about shepherding our hope. As Eldredge writes, the renewal of all things “is meant to be the center of our view of the world, our hopes, and our tangible expectations as we plan our lives going forward.” It is “meant to be your first hope in the way that God is your First Love.”

If that’s vague or unexciting for you, please read “All Things New” as it will transform your view of the future God has planned for those who love Him.

Who cares?

When I write such things, I confess to hearing a little voice within me, scolding me not to waste my time—telling me as if for the 20th time that people read financial blogs to learn how to save money at the grocery store or on their cable TV bill, that writing about money within the context of eternity is a non-starter, something far too disconnected from the realities of people’s daily lives.

But there’s another voice I hear as well, telling me I have to write such things because I know to the core of my being that living from this perspective is the only way any of us will ever use money in a constructive and satisfying way.

Important questions

Eldredge recommends pausing every now and then to ask ourselves, “How is my hope these days? Where is my hope these days?”

It’s perfectly fine to look forward to your next vacation or to remodeling your kitchen one day. But it’s essential to set such hopes within the context of a far greater hope.

To paraphrase what Eldredge wrote in another book, living with an eternal perspective is what enables us to deeply enjoy what there is now to enjoy as we look forward to a far greater feast that is yet to come.

Oh, how I can relate when he writes, “I am treasuring now every taste of the promise that comes my way.”

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6 Responses to Where Are You Setting Your Hope?

  1. Tammy Ingraham September 11, 2018 at 9:44 PM #

    Bravo!! Well said.

    • Matt Bell September 18, 2018 at 9:36 PM #

      Thanks, Tammy!

  2. Tom Vislisel August 22, 2018 at 3:45 PM #

    Matt, I encourage you to write more posts like this. This is Gold and why I always read your posts and I only skim other financial blogs. Thanks for your wisdom and talent!

    • Matt Bell August 22, 2018 at 5:39 PM #

      Thanks, Tom. This is a tough topic and I worry that people may not have the patience for it. But I think it’s essential for a healthy relationship with money. I really appreciate your feedback and encouragement.

  3. Aaron August 22, 2018 at 1:14 PM #

    Excellent post and reminder Matt. Reminds me of the famous Lewis quote (made prominent today by Desiring God), “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” God help us.

    • Matt Bell August 22, 2018 at 3:20 PM #

      Thanks for the feedback, Aaron. And amen to the Lewis quote. That’s one of my favorites. As ironic as it may sound, I think the financial issue for many people isn’t that they’ve stretched themselves too far. It’s that they’ve settled for too little — the life of a consumer with money management habits dictated by our culture.

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