Hope Remains

She busied herself in the garden, tending to the tender new shoots under the gentle spring sun. But her thoughts betrayed her, harkening back to the forbidden box she’d hidden under blankets and bedding. 

What’s in that box? Why am I not allowed to open it?

Curiosity. A gift from the god of gods that felt more like a curse. It niggled constantly in the back of her mind until it broke loose, demanding to have its way.

I could lift the lid just enough to peer inside. What harm could come from that?

Looking around and seeing no one, she sprinted to her room, threw off the coverings, and grabbed the box. She paused, thoughts still tormenting her in their do I or don’t I tug-of-war. Curiosity gave the final pull, and she lifted the lid.

With no warning, the box jolted open and terror enveloped her. Whisking and whooshing around her, dark cloud-like figures cackled with glee in their freedom. Dropping her head to the floor under the weight of such evil, she despised herself and very nearly gave in to Despair. That is, until she heard a gentle hum and saw a light emanating from the box.*

Heart pounding, Pandora crawled nearer. Peering into the box, she saw Hope remained.

“Pandora’s Box,” by Charles Edward Perugini. Credit: Wikipedia/Public Domain

A Hope-full Solo

I’ve had quite the journey with the Greek myth of Pandora and the idea of hope since 1983, the year I danced my one and only ballet solo–in Pandora’s Box. My fourteen year old self took the role of Hope with great pride and determination, thinking I’d somehow earned this spot and deserved to end my dance career in the spotlight.

But as the years have gone by, I’ve learned that such pride leads to folly–and falls. Despite my naive assumptions, however, that particular dance opened to me a beautiful curiosity about hope.

Early on I claimed the gift of hope as my own, allowing its influence to seep into stressful situations with positivity, into dire circumstances with a faith-filled attitude that God will work it out. And as I mature in my faith, I continue to learn how to hold onto hope even when worry and fear beckon me toward despair.

So as I step into 2023, it is with great eagerness and anticipation that I claim hope as my word of the year. Hope and I have danced together for over forty years, yet my spirit hints to my mind that what I think I know…it’s only the beginning. 

The Hope Chorus

For all the years that I danced in the chorus (or, ensemble) of ballets like The Nutcracker, longing to be the elegant Snow Queen fluttering among us snowflakes, my solo-moment as Hope failed to fill me with the satisfaction I’d expected. In fact, as I look back on that experience, I realize a deeper truth was planted in me–I’d much rather be part of the ensemble. Part of the group experience. Part of a community where we all work together toward the same goal.

Photo by Jess Zoerb on Unsplash

So, even though my fingers may be the ones to tap out these weekly posts, I don’t see myself as a soloist. I see myself as part of the troop, all of us eagerly doing our part to shine the light on the only One who deserves the spotlight. This, my friend, is an invitation to you. Will you join me this year for a dance with Hope? We’ll delve into its meanings. We’ll dig into its implications. We’ll even dare to allow it to enter our true selves so that all that we desire is washed in the cleansing blood of Christ, trusting that darkness will take flight. And the light of hope will remain.

Bolstered by Hope

On the chance that you are one of many believers who are sick-to-death of hope–maybe your workplace puts way too much emphasis on it or you’re tired of all the watered-down “hopes” of the world or you have lost most, if not all, of your hope–I especially extend an invitation to you. God beckons us inward, then outward, so that when we place our genuine hope in Him, something happens within us. We are better able to lay down doubt and fear to pick up trust. Then He asks us to share that hope with others.

In other words, God’s hope is much different and deeper than what most of us have known or experienced. So. I anticipate that this journey with hope won’t be a weak, unempowered, over-indulged, or empty experience. Instead, I have a holy expectancy that God seeks to reveal to us a well of truth about HIS HOPE–because His hope is true and good and oh-so powerful. 

Like Pandora, hope has been gifted to us–to go with us as we walk through life’s pains and problems. God never leaves us to stumble through life’s struggles on our own. His hope always remains.

Father God, how we need You. We confess to You our tendency of both having too little hope in You and too much hope in ourselves and our plans, in others and their power. We turn our faces toward You, with eyes that long to see your light, to absorb your goodness, to have your hope. How grateful we are that hope is found in You. Lord Jesus, your birth, life, and death demonstrate to us how much You love us and how much You trust your Father. We see in You a way to move and breathe and have our being in this world. And as we seek to understand how to put our hope in the life You have for us in eternity, may we feel the power of love and hope sustaining us through all life’s struggles in the here and now. Holy Spirit, what a gift You are! To have You dwelling in us at every moment of every day is a truth and a reality we too often take for granted. We look to You now and for the future to be our guide because we need your help to lead us along the right paths. Your very presence gives us hope. In Jesus’ name, amen. 
(inspired by Job 22:26; Psalm 62:5; Acts 17:28; 1 Peter 1:3-6; Proverbs 3:5-6)

  • *I’ve taken artistic license with Pandora’s story, merging many variations into my own thoughts. I’ve found in my research that neither is there just one Greek myth about Pandora nor any entire ballet about her–much to my shock and chagrin.
    • There were plenty of versions of “Pandora’s Box” to read and watch and listen to. I thought this one worthwhile (though it turns out to be a bit of an ad for Ted Talks in the end).
    • My own curiosity has reached new heights as I wonder what music and dances were included in my studio’s version of Pandora’s ballet back in 1983…
  • Resources
    • If you’d like a more in-depth analysis and explanation of Pandora’s myth, check out this article.
    • The only nugget I found about a Pandora “ballet” turned out to be one six minute song, but I chased that rabbit hole as far as I could. To no avail…never finding a way to listen to it. Here’s the article if you’re as curious as I.
    • And, of course, there’s a Spotify playlist. For now I’m calling it “Revival of Hope” as that is what I truly hope will happen–in us and among us. It’s loosely organized around what I think will be our winter themes. We’ll see!
  • Rhythms
    • Rather than jump in too quickly into all the rhythms we could add to our lives here at the beginning of the year, I propose we keep it simple. Let’s take a listen to the songs on the playlist, asking God to speak through them, to awaken within us a deeper desire to know His brand of hope.
    • Then, as you feel things, learn things, wonder about things, share here! Comment and come back to read what others share. We are, after all, a chorus of believers dancing TOGETHER!
  • And, as community, let us not neglect sharing God’s hope with others. Share your God-stories with people around you. Share this site. Share God’s Word. Shine His light into the world!

Featured Photo by Olga Korolenko on Unsplash

Published by Shelley Linn Johnson

Lover of The Word. And words. Cultivator of curiosity about all things Christ. Lifelong learner who likes inviting others along for the journey. Recovering perfectionist who has only recently realized that rhythms are so much better than stress-inducing must-do's.

6 thoughts on “Hope Remains

  1. This post today gives me a lot to think about. My word this year is “Truth”! I am intrigued to dive deeper into understanding more about the “truth of God’s hope” for me!! Can’t wait to listen to the playlist!! TY!! 💗

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