What Visiting a Volcano Taught Me about Hope

Good morning from Westminster, MD!

Have you ever thought you understood something only to realize what you thought you knew was only a limited picture of a bigger reality? This was my experience with volcanoes. I have always found volcanoes to be cool. Like many kids, I built my own “volcano” with baking soda and vinegar, and waited with great anticipation to experience its “eruption”. I would see them on TV, in movies and books, and learn about the in school. I thought I understood volcanoes, until, I realized I didn’t.

On one of my early trips to Nicaragua, I had the chance to visit the Masaya Volcano with the rest of the mission team from Crossroads Church in Westminster, MD. Given my childhood love for volcanoes, I was pretty excited. However, nothing could prepare me for the real experience.

Driving up the winding road to the top of the crater– yes, I said the top of the volcano — you almost feel as if you are in another world due to the stunted vegetation and lava rock rubble in every direction. Arriving at the top, there are signs instructing you to back into the parking spots for a quick exit in case of a volcanic eruption. This made sense since all that separated the parking spots from the crater was a small wall.

Exiting our brightly painted school bus, we took in the view of this powerful natural wonder. While no lava was visible from the top of the crater, the sheer size and potential of the volcano was breathtaking. Staring into the crater, realizing the hole was created by an explosion from the depths of the earth, the power of a volcano goes from an interesting fact you read in a book to something real and perspective-changing.

This has been my experience with the word “hope” as well. I did not truly grasp its power until my eyes were open to a different, more significant picture of it. I needed to reimagine hope. Could the same be true for you?

The word “hope” can mean different things to different people, depending on the context and their life experiences. For some, it brings a certain level of joy and excitement for what is to come. For others, it is a reminder of failed dreams and disappointment. This is apparent from the many famous quotes about hope.

Desmond Tutu said that, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Conversely, Benjamin Franklin said, “He that lives upon hope will die fasting.” Why the difference in perspective? Is it possible they were talking about two different kinds of hope?

There is a difference between hoping and hope. Hoping, or to hope, is a verb that doesn’t come with a ton of confidence. It is the, “I hope I pass this test”, kind of hope we feel when we aren’t sure we studied enough. Hope, on the other hand, is a noun. It is something with which we can be filled that is often fueled by confidence in something or someone, not a passing feeling. For example, I am full of hope because I know who created me. It is an all-in hope that has the power to create real change.

What is this all-in hope? It is a hope that comes from a reframed identity that says I was created on purpose and with a purpose. It is a hope that is fueled by a real opportunity to take advantage this belief that I was created for something more. When combined, this reframed identity and real opportunity, a powerful form of all-in hope is born that can overcome the lie of hopelessness that holds many captive. How do I know this? Because I have experienced it in my life and seen it in the life of others.

Consider Sofia, a relatively quite woman from the community of El Canon in Nicaragua who had little to offer beyond her willingness to work when the NicaWorks! staff met her when we started the El Canon Community Gardening Project. Honestly, I would not have picked her to be its most successful member. Living in a makeshift plastic wrapped house, Sofia did not let her small beginnings prevent her from making the most of the opportunity.

Seeing the possibility for a different future in her work with the community garden, Sofia asked if NicaWorks! would assist her in starting her own bean project. Believing in her potential, we enthusiastically agreed. Through hard wok and a willingness to reinvest in her own future, what started as a few hundred dollars investment in beans grew into a sustainable enterprise of beans, corn, chickens, and even turkeys. Sofia is now well on her way to changing the future of her family.

This is the power all-in hope has to create change in impoverished communities. All-in hope is both practical and spiritual in nature. Why are they both so important and are they both required? I will explore these questions in future posts.

Do you want to dig even deeper into the power of all-in hope, stories of change that have come from it, and the role you can play in bringing it to others? Be sure to check out my upcoming book, Hope Realized. If you would like to stay up to date on the book, receive more thoughts on these topics, sign up click here to sign up for my newsletter. You will also receive 5 Foundational Steps to Make a True Difference in Someone’s Life, a free resource I created to help you jump into bringing hope to others.

Remember, no one is truly hopeless.

James Belt

One thought on “What Visiting a Volcano Taught Me about Hope

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: