Give Me Your Fear

Now give me your fear
I’ll give you hope in return
now give me the night
I’ll give you the morning in return

With these words The Passion, a yearly Dutch television show about Christ’s last hours and death and resurrection, ended. Hundreds of Dutchies were singing along. It was moving and it was beautiful. It really touched me. How encouraging it is to see people wanting to encourage each other. Willing to help each other. Just as the reporter was expressing over and over again.

I also felt a bit bewilderment and even hopelessness. Can you really do that? I wanted to ask. Can you take away my fear and give me hope in return? What is hope precisely? And, how do you do that: give away your fear?

I feel it too. I want to take away people’s fears. I walk around my neighborhood every day and make sure I keep distance. I feel the fear of people I meet along the way. They move a bit more to the side when we pass. Some wear facemasks. We look at each other as if we are pariah, lepers who barely, or some of them more expressive, greet each other. I was looking for solitude when I was walking, but the loneliness this evokes, is suffocating and I do the only thing I can think of: I stammer hello and silently pray. Bless him, Lord, bless her.

I give you hope in return. But what is hope and how do you receive hope? Two years ago I wrestled with that question for weeks. I asked my pastor where I could write a song about and he mentioned the text our congregation had for that year. It was Romans 15:13: ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’

‘The congregation and everyone needs to hear about hope’, he said, ‘especially in light of all the news we hear about wars and disasters.’ This was well before Covid invaded the world and today I realize it is more current then ever. He explained that hope in Greek is ‘elpidos’. It means: ‘expectation of what is certain’. So it is not about hope in the sense of: ‘I hope it will be sunny tomorrow’. That isn’t certain. The hope in Romans is certain.

I didn’t know what to with this. I didn’t feel hope and I didn’t think hopeful thoughts and writing a song about hope if you don’t feel hope, is really hard. So I decided to ask the Holy Spirit to help me, as He is the source of all hope and power. That much I did understand from this verse. I read Romans a couple of times in all kinds of translations. I had to know what it means to expect what is certain, to hope. I read and prayed God would show me what it meant and what needed to be worded in the song. Because I wanted to be authentic and didn’t want to write a song that might be true objectively, but could not sing from the heart myself, I entered into a difficult struggle.

Romans speaks about Abraham. He had to wait years before the promises of God were fulfilled. He continued to hope. In the text God is called the God of hope Himself. It’s even stronger than that. He ís hope. He Himself is our hope. It is not merely about hoping that all our dreams come true. It is about putting our hope in Him, whatever happens.

‘Do you still trust God?’ Someone asked us after Amanda passed away. I discovered in struggling with this question, that it was also about this question: Where do you trust God for? Do you trust Him that all your plans will come about, your wishes will come true, your interpretations of what God says are correct. Then there always comes a point when it turns out that that trust is shaky. But do you trust Himself, His character, His hand in your life, His promise that He is with you. Then you have solid ground under your feet. Whatever happens, nobody takes you from His hand.

I found out that that is the hope that is certain: He is with me. He’s with you. When I finished studying and interpreting, I wrote a song that is astonishingly hopeful. Yet it also does justice to the despair that still raged in my heart at the time. And today, two years later, it feels as an answer to the heartfelt cry of so many people who are on their own struggling with fear and the desire for it to come true: I’ll give you hope in return.

God of hope

Let the God of hope
Fill us with all joy
Fill us with all peace
As we trust in Him

So that we overflow, overflow in hope
By the power of the Holy Spirit
Fully persuaded that He’ll do as He promised
For He Himself is our hope

Let the God of hope
Fill us with all joy
Fill us with all peace
As we trust in Him

So that we can rejoice, can rejoice in trouble
By the power of the Holy Spirit
Fully aware that He’s there with us
For He Himself is our hope

First published in Dutch on April 10, 2020

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