What Hope Smells Like

“If hope had a smell, what would it be?” That is the question that has been on the forefront of my mind this week. I did not come up with this question on my own, but it came from a podcast I enjoy listening to every Tuesday. 

On “The Next Right Thing,” the host, Emily P. Freeman, offers space for your soul to discern your next right thing. She helps with what she calls “decision fatigue.” When you are stuck in a rut, Emily is your gal.

 During this Covid season, I’ve created routines and schedules all in the hopes of guarding my heart from insanity. Taking walks outside, simply observing God’s creation, keeping up with my daily planner and scheduling details into my days have all helped me to keep moving forward.

My hope was to draw closer to God, but instead I scheduled Him right out of my days.

The focus became keeping my schedule, checking off my to-do list, searching for the ever elusive feeling of accomplishment. I began to realize that in my striving to be focused, I was somehow becoming unable to focus. My prayer life suffered. I couldn’t focus for even 15 minutes on Bible study or even the simplest of tasks. By the end of the day I was exhausted, depleted, and I hadn’t really accomplished much at all.

Is the road to hell paved with good intentions? Maybe that is a little extreme, but when my focus began to be on doing good things, I forgot to just be. My hope was in the details, and those details became my god. 

The road may indeed be paved with good intentions, and the devil can be in the details.

Emily’s podcast episode caused me to pull off on the side of the road. I needed a fresh perspective, new possibilities, and a renewed purpose. I’m looking at God in a new way, through my physical senses. 

Jesus was after all, a human person with eyes, ears, a mouth and a nose.  I’ve never really thought about this at all. God created us with bodies and physical senses to experience the tangible realities of our human experiences. Why not then use our senses to experience God, linking the physical with the spiritual? As Emily put it, “How does my faith shift and settle when I remember that Jesus had brown skin, food preferences and fingernails?”

If Hope had a smell, what would it be?

Hope is certainly not something I can smell, or even touch, taste, feel or hear. When I googled the word, “hope”, I discovered a new meaning. Of course, the typical definition is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” We have all used the word in this way, “I hope I can come for a visit soon.” 

Have you ever thought about hope as “a feeling of trust”? This definition lines up more with the biblical definition, “the confident expectation of what God has promised and its strength is in His faithfulness.” We can hope in God when we place our faith and trust in Him, but it is more than a feeling, it is a “confident expectation.”

Having this hope, however, stirs up feelings of trust, and with this hope we can believe something better is ahead.

If hope had a smell, it would smell like citrus, like oranges. I wash my face every morning with a cleanser that smells like citrisy orange, and I love it. It is refreshing. That is what hope is to my soul.

We are living in a time that threatens to rob us of hope. When I feel hope slipping away, I grasp for what I can control, and recently it has been the certainty of my schedule. This drives me to distraction, becoming nose blind to the Living Hope.

Breathe in hope. Smell the promises.  Be the aroma of Christ wherever God has planted you.

“Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be sober-minded and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 1:13

Smell the hope of Christ now, forward looking to the not yet. Hope smells new and fresh. God is making all things new. It is by His grace alone that I am saved, by faith and not by anything I have done. In Jesus, I am a new creation.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.”
Revelation 21:1-4

I pose the same question to you. If hope had a smell, what would it be?

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