Lately I have been struggling with the concept of hope. In fact, I’ve been wrestling with it – is it realistic, is it harmful, and is it helpful?
I must confess that there are a few people and a few situations where I am beginning to lose hope. Logic tells me that things will never change. So where does hope fit in with logic?
I searched Scripture, read a number of articles online, and had a long conversation with my husband about it. There are some people who have the ability to continue to hope – against all hope. And there are some who land on the side of logic. As a believer – I wondered what my approach should be.
I am sure you have heard of the phrase, hoping against hope. And I asked myself, what exactly does that mean? It means…
“Refusing to give up hope even when the situation appears to be hopeless.”
Logic fights with faith every single day. Is it sheer foolishness to beat your head against the wall and keep hoping – against hope?
What about –
When you hope for a job and don’t get the offer?
When you have prayed for a person for years and the prayers remain unanswered?
When you pray for healing and it does not come?
When you pray for your marriage and he walks away?
When you pray for a wayward child and there appears to be no change?
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” – Proverbs 13:12
God’s Word acknowledges the tremendous pain that is felt when our hopes are dashed …once again. But yet, the Word also encourages us to continue to hope. But why?
When I was searching scripture I came upon 1 Corinthians 13:13 where Paul talks about the three things that are vital to our faith journey. I read the passage from the Message version and something really struck me.
”But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.”
But for right now…but for right now. This was the answer I was looking for. In this life on earth – for right now – God calls us to continue in faith, hope, and love. We are to hope unswervingly.
As I studied and read this familiar passage, something else hit me right between the eyes. And the best of these three is love.
God loves me too much to ever give up on me. He continues to believe in me, to have hope in me, and to love me extravagantly. He cannot give up on me because He IS love.
Therefore, when I love someone with God’s love, I cannot and should not give up on them. Never. For right now, I must continue to believe in them and to love them extravagantly. I must continue to hope against hope.
So…that verse satisfied most of my questions. But logic still whispers to me that there are moments when hope disappoints. We live in a fallen world and life hurts. So I searched scripture and asked the question once again- is it sheer foolishness to hope against hope?
”The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” – 1 Corinthians 2:14
Hoping against hope does not seem logical. Hope is not logical. But when our ultimate hope is in Jesus – who He is, what He can do, and what He has already done for us…hope supersedes logic.
In the past few months I have met many women who hoped their test results would prove to be nothing, yet the results revealed cancer. I have had quiet conversations with women whose children have lost hope in God because of their diagnosis. I have heard stories from women whose husbands left them in the midst of it all.
And here is the amazing thing. With these very same women, I have observed a supernatural kind of trust, hope, and love. Life handed them a cruel blow, yet their faith remains firm and they trust His plan. They love extravagantly and laugh with great abandon. Their ultimate hope is in the One who loved us enough to die for us, so that we might live forever.
If you were to sit among these women, without knowing their stories, you might assume that life had been easy for them. These are some of the most joy-filled and hope-filled women I have met in all of my life. I am privileged to walk among them. Hope disappointed them – but Jesus did not.
And something else occurred to me. (This is so obvious it’s almost embarrassing.) In the past few days I heard from two people who I have been praying for – for years. One has been a prisoner to addiction, the other is my husband’s sister who has been estranged from the family for many years.
Logic told me, “They are just reaching out because you had a cancer diagnosis. Don’t get your hopes up.” And hope tells me,“ While you have been praying, Jesus has been working behind the scenes. Victory is just around the corner.”
I will not give up “hoping” that my prayers will be answered and will not give up hoping for miraculous things to occur in seemingly hopeless situations. I have seen many miracles in my life and it is ridiculous to think that I would ever lose – hope.
I have three days left of radation. After that I will continue my hormone therapy and continue to hope that the cancer does not return.
In many of the radiation clinics they have a large bell that you ring on your last day of radation and all the fellow green robed friends cheer for the person who has completed radiation.
My sister in law found a Christmas bell for me and attached a beautiful bow that matches my house perfectly. Every Christmas I am going to bring out this bell in remembrance of God’s faithfulness to me during this difficult time. In fact, maybe I will collect a new bell every December to mark every year that God has blessed me with since my diagnosis. Yes, I think I will do that.
A journey that at first seemed “hopeless”, filled me with a new kind of faith, hope, and love. And I am ringing the bell in celebration of that.
”God is the only one who can make the valley of trouble a door of hope.” – Catherine Marshall
***I have had a hard time finding the time to blog – but I’m not going away. I have about 5 different blogs rolling around in my head that need to be written. I will be back soon – I promise!Until next time,