I have loved Emily Dickinson’s “Hope is the Thing with Feathers” ever since I read it a couple years ago while I was working on my master’s degree in education.
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
Hope keeps us going in the hardest of times. This poem describes hope as something that gives us what we need to go on, and it is just there, just with us. Do you ever feel like the bird in the storm, and you reach deep inside and find hope, the “thing with feathers,” is still there? In her personal life, Emily Dickinson struggled when it came to faith, but her poem speaks to me. She is one of my favorites.
In Romans 5:3-5, Saint Paul writes about hope from a Christian perspective.
. . . but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, HOPE. And HOPE does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
When we go through hard times or feel like we are encountering one obstacle after another, it’s the Holy Spirit that can lift us up. It’s the “roar” in your spirit that says to keep going when you are walking in God’s truth.
Over the summer, I like to start each morning by reading a devotional while my son is still sleeping. As a teacher, the school year demands more than anyone (except other teachers) could ever really imagine; I am very thankful to have a job that impacts so many lives, but it does mean I must fill my own tank so that I can meet the needs of those who are in my classroom. Every summer that I have chosen to start my morning with a devotional, I have not been disappointed. This summer, I decided to read a chapter from I Am: A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is by Michele Cushatt each morning. I highly recommend it. Another good one that I read one summer was None Like Him: Ten Ways God is Different from Us (and why that’s a good thing) by Jen Wilkin. I highly recommend that one as well. For Christians, spending time in the word opens us up for communication from the Holy Spirit, and it is absolutely necessary in this world of obstacles.
This morning, my devotional included the following thought about the Latin meanings behind the word inspire.
To inspire . . . has of course the stem spir in it. It is, very literally, to give or put spirit into someone. To inspire someone is way more than making them happy or amazed or even making them feel good. It is to lend them spirit when they are short. And of course because of the incorporeal nature of both air and spirit, the act of inhaling also became known as inspiration. In that sense too: it is like mechanical ventilation for a soul that’s lost its resolve for a moment.
The devotional points to how the Holy Spirit inspires us. Titus 3:4-6 says:
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously.
For Christians, the “thing” that communicates what we need, that stirs the hope in our souls, is the Holy Spirit. When we ask Christ into our lives, truly believe in him for the forgiveness of sins, and seek to follow Him — when we become Christ-followers — we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are not promised an easy life, but we can see how perseverance builds character. It gives hope a chance to break through.
If we are truly in God’s word, not everything that we read will be sunshine, moonbeams, and easy-breezy. It challenges us. Some of the truths are hard. I experienced that this summer as I read through the book of Romans. Sometimes we need to persevere even in reading the word. Even the truths we struggle through are ultimately good ones. There are days when reading God’s word might not make you feel good, but keep going. Pray about it. In with the hard truths, God is shaping something beautiful that is for our good.
Go forward in hope today!
Bible Journaling Challenge: Find a verse about hope or the Holy Spirit that speaks to you, and create a page about it in your Journaling Bible. You could just write out the verse, or you could illustrate it with something meaningful to you. If you are not sure what verse to use, Romans 5:3-5 is a good one.