When You Are Low on Hope
by Max Lucado
Water. All Noah can see is water. The evening sun sinks into it. The clouds are reflected in it. His boat is surrounded by it. Water. Water to the north. Water to the south. Water to the east. Water to the west. Water.
He sent a raven on a scouting mission; it never returned. He sent a dove. It came back shivering and spent, having found no place to roost. Then, just this morning, he tried again. With a prayer he let it go and watched until the bird was no bigger than a speck on a window.
All day he looked for the dove’s return.
Now the sun is setting, and the sky is darkening, and he has come to look one final time, but all he sees is water. Water to the north. Water to the south. Water to the east. Water to the …
You know the feeling. You have stood where Noah stood. You’ve known your share of floods. Flooded by sorrow at the cemetery, stress at the office, anger at the disability in your body or the inability of your spouse. You’ve seen the floodwater rise, and you’ve likely seen the sun set on your hopes as well. You’ve been on Noah’s boat.
And you’ve needed what Noah needed; you’ve needed some hope. You’re not asking for a helicopter rescue, but the sound of one would be nice. Hope doesn’t promise an instant solution but rather the possibility of an eventual one. Sometimes all we need is a little hope.
That’s all Noah needed. And that’s all Noah received.
Here is how the Bible describes the moment: “When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf!” (Gen. 8:11 NIV).
An olive leaf. Noah would have been happy to have the bird but to have the leaf! This leaf was more than foliage; this was promise. The bird brought more than a piece of a tree; it brought hope. For isn’t that what hope is? Hope is an olive leaf—evidence of dry land after a flood. Proof to the dreamer that dreaming is worth the risk.
Don’t we love the olive leaves of life?
“It appears the cancer may be in remission.”
“I can help you with those finances.”
“We’ll get through this together.”
What’s more, don’t we love the doves that bring them?
Perhaps that’s the reason so many loved Jesus.
To all the Noahs of the world, to all who search the horizon for a fleck of hope, he proclaims, “Yes!” And he comes. He comes as a dove. He comes bearing fruit from a distant land, from our future home. He comes with a leaf of hope.
Have you received yours? Don’t think your ark is too isolated. Don’t think your flood is too wide. Receive his hope, won’t you? Receive it because you need it. Receive it so you can share it.
Love always hopes. “Love … bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:4–7 NKJV, emphasis mine)