On the second day of sorority rush during my sophomore year of college, I walked onto the Fraternity Quad at the University of South Carolina. My heart was full of hopes of belonging and redemption and making something of myself. I wore my very favorite denim dress. It was long and empire-waisted with big, round pearl buttons and a notched collar. I wore white keds and my hair was cut short just like Monica Geller. I felt victorious.
Until a fraternity brother hung his body out of his dorm room window and began rating the women standing there. I got less than a 10. Significantly. All of my hopes came crashing right there. That boy hanging out of that window confirmed a fear I had held long in my heart: I was not enough and I would never be enough and I would always be a failure. His words? That number? They became a mark on me. One I carried for many years, one that still feels raw from time to time. That mark and those fears drove a desperation in me.
Hope. It appears roughly 140 times in the Bible (depending on the version you read). There are nearly a dozen Hebrew and Greek versions of that small but huge word.
But today? I need tiqvah. It’s a Hebrew word that is suprising and wonderful and it means all the good things like expectation.
It also means a cord. A scarlet cord that a harlot named Rahab hung out of her own window. A scarlet cord that she hung in faith and wonder that the God of the Israelites was a God of miracles and fresh starts and she needed one. A scarlet cord that saved her when her city fell down around her. A scarlet cord that marked her forever as God’s own and wrote her into the greatest Redemption of all time. That cord took her from a prostitute to a child of God and part of the lineage of Christ.
I need to know this, that I am marked by hope. This mark is not the mark of our world, the one that rates us by perfection. We are not: hopeless, failed, not good enough, going nowhere, used up, empty, alone. Our mark is crimson and it spilled the day our Savior hung not out of a window but on a cross. Because of His mark we are: loved, known, redeemed, good, allowed to be weak, utilized, favored, part of something, going somewhere.
Hope is a mark and it has everything to do with what has already been done and so much less to do with what will be done. Hope begins on a cross when you were just a name on the lips of Christ.
What are you marked by?