Romans 12:12: “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (NIV).
I started a ritual with our youngest at bedtime, not realizing I was creating something meaningful. In all honesty, I was just trying to stop his tears. In his mind, everyone else was still having fun but he had to go to bed and that wasn’t fair. So, I started to distract him by talking about all the fun things he was going to do the next day, exciting activities he had already done, and sometimes, if his laughter was especially active, we would talk about all the fun things planned for the whole week. For whatever reason, it would put a smile on his face, giggles in his belly, and he would settle down so we could pray, sing, and rock a little before tucking him in bed. As I said earlier, I didn’t realize how much he enjoyed it, until he started asking me what fun things he would do the next day.
That was when I realized I was teaching him about hope. Not on purpose, mind you, but instilling it nevertheless. I started thinking…isn’t that what we all do? Don’t we look forward to things to come? Plan for the future? Have goals in our personal life, professional life, marriage, and with our children? Isn’t the goal to lose twenty pounds a sense of hope? What about training for the marathon…hope that you will finish, beat your personal score, or maybe even come in first? Getting the job promotion, saving for a house, planning a vacation, beating cancer?
Life without hope or something to anticipate brings about a completely different perspective. I’ve had periods of life where I’ve felt “hopeless” about certain situations. Thankfully, those periods haven’t lasted too long and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it long term, but I have had that feeling of hopelessness and I know how awful that can feel.
The Bible tells us that if we’re God’s children, we have hope in every situation, no matter how desperate it seems. We don’t have to be hopeless, feel helpless, or worry about the answers. With God, even diagnoses like cancer, financial hardships, wayward children, extramarital affairs – no matter what the issue, we can have hope.
The following is a concept that has always brought me comfort. In Psalm 139:16, we are told, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (NIV). This assures me that years before I was even born, God knew what would happen. He knew about this particular day, event, trauma, tragedy, or whatever it may be that wants to destroy the hope that I have. In John 16:33, we are assured that, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (NIV). God knew the trials we would be facing and He knew what and when we would feel like giving up hope. But, He is here to remind us that He has overcome and we can rest in peace, knowing that He’s in charge.
The best hope of all is what’s to come – Eternity. For those who are God’s children, which anyone of us can be if we accept His free gift through His Son Jesus Christ, we have the promise of experiencing things far greater than we can imagine for all eternity. It’s hard to wrap my head around the concept of forever when I can barely keep track of my schedule this week, but it’s there, nevertheless. And, that, my friends, is real hope.
The vacations, losing twenty pounds, or getting ready for a marathon are all nice to help break up the monotony of life, but Eternity in Heaven with God is the ultimate goal.