Fear and Hope Don’t Exist On A Spectrum

As I draft this, I can see a church sign blinking outside my window. One of the messages rolling on the sign is, “Hope, not fear.” A nice sentiment, but the more I’ve seen it flashing across the screen, the more it has bothered me.

Do hope and fear actually live at opposite ends of the spectrum? I don’t think so. 

First of all, the hope and fear pairing is not necessarily accurate. I would propose that the more accurate pairings are actually hope/despair and fear/trust.

But while I don’t think the ends of the spectrum are hope and fear, I think that things likely look a lot more like this: 

Fear and despair can certainly be friends, and hope and trust also go hand-in-hand. Thankfully, Scripture speaks to all of these things. I think a beautiful example is Isaiah 41:10: 

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” 

You see the opposites on the grid play out here. Do not fear – trust that he is with you. Do not despair – hope that He is your God who WILL strengthen and help and uphold you. 

Knowing that fear and despair tend to plague me at the same time and that I should turn toward hope and trust help me understand my emotions and tendencies more. Maybe not the deepest train of thought prompted by a church sign, but one I appreciated today.

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