Hope Is An Action

“Hope is for thinkers, not doers,” said another one of my co-workers the other day.

This, ironically, made me think.

In many senses, hope is a desire for a favorable outcome.

As a noun, Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary refers to hope as “a desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment .

But hope is also a verb.

As a verb, Merriam-Webster’s defines it as “cherishing a desire with anticipation.”

You may think “who cares? Verb, noun, whatever. It doesn’t really matter to me.”

But it does matter.


Because actively pursuing our hopes makes them more likely to come to fruition.

For instance, my first son, Caleb Joshua should be born by tomorrow, God willing.

Anyway, that is my hope.

But my wife and I aren’t just going to leave it as a desire.

We are going to keep her appointment with her OB/GYN today at 3:30 p.m., and they are going to initiate the process. If he isn’t born today, his due date, they are going to take additional action and induce her tomorrow morning at 6 a.m.

In this sense, my desire for him to be born on his due date has no bearing on the outcome. My wife and I have to take action; otherwise, he may be too big for normal delivery.

Or, the chance for mishap will increase if we do nothing but sit at home hoping it is a successful birth. (I hope I never have to do that.)

To me, the modern usage of hope has diminished its value, which leads some, like my co-worker, to say it’s for thinkers not doers.

But I’ve found, when it comes to the meaning of hope, there’s a rub. In the same way, I can’t discard hope and self-actualize my each and every desire (see Monday’s post); I can’t passively actualize it either.

To more clearly illustrate the second fallacy, Merriam-Webster’s cites the evolution of the meaning of hope as an adverb: hopefully.

The word hopefully was coined in 1593, but it wasn’t until the 18th century that it began to take on a more passive usage. The dictionary refers to it as a disjunct; meaning, it speaks qualitatively about the sentence that follows.

To me, this trivializes the word.

Consider a local news broadcast on the weather:

Meteorologist: “in the forecast, we have the likelihood of freezing temperatures coupled with heavy precipitation.”

News anchor: “Thanks, Greg. Hopefully, the roads won’t ice over.”

It’s a senseless expression, and merely flavors the news with the news anchor’s desire but does nothing else.

But the initial usage of hopefully, coined way back in 1593, hits the root of the word’s value.

Think your first grammar lesson. Adverbs do what? Describe verbs.

This tells me when I hope, I need to act.

For instance, I will hopefully bike to work.

(Confession:) We are down to one car; so, indeed, there is no other way for me to get to work. So I pedal the three miles (up hill both ways of course) with a desire to get to work, but I am also actively driving my legs down on the pedals to get a few feet closer to the object of my desire.

In the same way, I will hopefully pray for God to intervene in the life of a friend of mine who is struggling with drug addiction.

This is a lot different from saying, “hopefully, my friend will get better.”

To me, wishful-thinking is just a cop-out from actively engaging my mind in the world around me.

That said, I will hopefully write on this topic until I’ve exhausted either the word, myself or you.

Please read hopefully.

Posted in Hope, New Series!