Doves as Symbols of Hope to Start Again

The dove is often viewed as a symbol of hope. (See how anchors are also a symbol of hope in the Bible.)

Broken Bird Feeder

I see bird seed spilled on the ground in our front yard. The squirrel is having a feast.

I had recently added a plastic dome over the bird feeder to keep the squirrels from wiping out the food in just a few hours.

But once again, my plot was foiled.

The squirrel outsmarted me. He chewed the rope holding the bird feeder, causing it to fall to the ground, and breaking it wide open.

Doves as Hope

I want to watch the birds, not the squirrels, at the bird feeder hanging on our cherry tree.

While I’m not a serious bird-watcher (I can only identify a handful for certain), I do know a few.

One of the birds I know is the dove. We have many doves that eat from the bird feeder (when the squirrels haven’t emptied it out.)

I like watching the doves. Doves remind me to hope.

Associating doves with hope originates from the biblical story of Noah’s ark in Genesis 7-8. It is written that after Noah and his family ride out the 40-day rainstorm, waters rise for another 5 months. In the next 5 months, waters begin receding, leaving the ark to rest on the mountains of Ararat.

The story continues that Noah opens the window. He sends out a raven. But it only flies back and forth because there is nowhere for it to land.

Noah next sends out a dove, but it can’t land either.

Another week passes. Noah sends out the dove again. This time it returns back to Noah with a gift, a freshly picked olive leaf.

Noahs Ark Flood Timeline

timeline revised from

Thrive in Hope

Noah’s hope is coming true. He knows there is life again outside the ark. God has not abandoned him.

But the story continues. Noah waits one more week and releases the dove a third time. This time the bird doesn’t return at all, a sign that it is able to live on its own.

The dove found its own bird food.

The dove was a tangible reminder to Noah to hope. When he needed evidence that new life was possible, the dove brought it.

We All Need Hope

In the New Testament, a dove lights on Jesus after he is baptized in the Jordan River by John. Here the dove represents the Spirit of God and is accompanied by God’s voice from heaven, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

The apostle Paul writes that God is the God of hope. It is through the power of the Spirit that we can overflow with hope (Romans 15:13).

I need more hope. Hope for fresh starts. Hope for renewal. Hope for the dawning of a new day.

And hope for more doves to feed in my front yard.

I look online this morning for a new bird feeder. I add one to my cart. I click “buy.”

I’ll start again.

Hope really does spring eternal.

Life Goes On

* * *

Share your thoughts in the comments.


  • 4 Ways to Express Your Hope
    When you feel too cynical or things seem hopeless, that’s a great time to practice your hope. Here are 4 ways.
  • Get Your Hopes Up for Good Gifts Ahead
    We can’t imagine the gifts God has planned for us or what time they will arrive. But we can know they will be good. Get your hopes up.
  • When Hope Feels Dangerous
    Our hope for the future isn’t defined by our past. Here’s why we should continue to practice hope, even when it feels dangerous.

Practicing Hope series

14 thoughts on “Doves as Symbols of Hope to Start Again

  1. Jeanne Takenaka

    Lisa, yes doves (and anchors) are beautiful symbols of hope. I’m so thankful God gives us reminders that He is with us in the floods of life. That He will sustain us and bring us to solid land when our whole life feels out of control. He is the One we get to hold onto when the storms hit, or when the squirrels chew. 😉

    I’m glad you bought another bird feeder. Here’s hoping the squirrels can’t sabotage it!

    By the way, thank you for sharing the infographic of the timeline of Noah’s flood. I’ve never seen it laid out like that before!

  2. Trudy

    Thank you for this HOPE-filled post, Lisa. I love doves, too, especially because of that reminder of hope. 🙂 Love and blessings of many HOPE-filled days!

  3. David

    Beautiful and heartfelt writing, Lisa, like a hidden prayer. The dove was there all along, in the darkest days of the flood, ready for its moment. One of my slogans is, “There is never a way back, but there is always a way forward.”

  4. Donna Reidland

    We need hope and to know that biblical hope is not the “wishing and hoping” kind. Biblical hope is a sure thing! Thanks for giving us hope this morning. We have what we call mourning doves here in my part of Texas. I enjoy sitting outside and watching the them, too.

  5. JeanWise

    I love watching the doves outside my office window, We were surprised this year not just with one pair but during winter a whole flock ( often 12 or more) doves feasting on the seed. Surrounded by hope in the gloom of winter.

    THe lesson I am in the process of learning from the doves though is to admire their gentle beauty. All brown – not my favorite color and usually associated with blah – yet they wear it so well. Gorgeous shades and spots on their feathers. Not sure of my lesson yet but watching them brings me joy and a moment of peaceful reflection,

  6. Anita Ojeda

    I have three species of doves that show up at my feeders ❤️ I’ve never pondered the connection between their presence and hope before. Now you’ve given me something to think about each time I see one. Have you heard of the squirrel buster feeder? I’ve heard it works well. I’ve only seen a squirrel a handful of times where we live!

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