My kids say that I’m the best finder. The irony is that I actually lose things all the time, so I guess being a good finder is more of a necessity than anything else. My secret is asking the right questions. These two questions – “where did you last see it?” and “what does it look like?” — are central to recalling information of any kind.
“Where did you last see it?” gets us to the frame of mind from that time – what we were doing, why we did it, what was happening around us. This usually jogs our memory and we can go find the lost item, or at least track down someone else who might know where to find it.
“What does it look like?” is an equally important question because our brains use the process of elimination to identify objects. For example — if I’m looking for a carrot then we can know I’m looking for something orange, and usually not any other color. This sounds simple, but it is actually a highly complex, multistep process in the brain. If your parents taught you that carrots are purple, then the whole system goes out the window when someone asks you to find a carrot. Navigating a salad bar would be a nightmare.
If you’re still reading this, you probably want me to get to the point. Quick. So here you go:
Where did we last see hope? If we can remember where we last saw or felt hope, then maybe we can backtrack what got us to that feeling and then figure out where it went next. If whatever we were hoping for failed to happen, then we can look back at our own motives, and what was happening around us at the time. If our hope was fulfilled, our emotions after that event will tell us much about our own thoughts.
What does hope look like? This is tricky, much trickier than finding a carrot. We might say that we feel hopeful when the stock market has several good days in a row, because then it seems more likely that another good day is around the corner. But it’s important to really look at this thing called hope – to analyze it, study it, and know its characteristics — because sometimes what we call hope is really just wishful thinking. And if we go looking for the wrong thing, we might end up with a plate full of radishes instead of carrots.
Hope does not disappoint us (Romans 5:5).