Over the past year, my mother has been struggling with cancer and the life changing repercussions. Some days she has simply carried on as though the cancer did not exist. Many other days, however, she was depressed, discouraged and afraid.
Cancer is one of those things that is totally out of our control. It appears when we’re not ready and executes its own agenda. Up until very recently, if you were diagnosed with cancer there was no hope. Now, there are new treatments and technologies that provide some hope but no guarantee. As I have shared this process with my mom, one thing has become abundantly clear to me and that is how much I value hope!
Hope can take on different perspectives. A child might say, “I hope I get X for Christmas!” A student might hope for good grades, a young adult might hope for that special someone to come into their life. A parent might hope for the health and safety of their child. Hope can mean a lot of different things to different people.
As a Christian, I am able to say that my hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ. This kind of hope is different than hoping for something. Hope in the Lord Jesus is the realization of faith. In other words, because I have faith in Jesus Christ I have hope for the future. Do you see the difference? For some, hope is another way of saying, “I wish for…” while for the Christian, hope is a way of saying, “I believe!” or “I can trust.” I believe that my future is secure because Jesus shed His blood on the cross to pay the debt incurred to God by MY sins. My hope for eternity is secure because of my faith in Jesus.
Jesus tells us in the Bible that whatever we ask for we should do so in His Name and it will be given to us. I think that many confuse asking in His Name with asking for what they want in their own time and finishing the sentence/prayer with, “in Jesus’ Name, amen.”
When Jesus went to the cross, He wasn’t happy about it. He wasn’t looking forward to hanging until He died. He knew it would be horrendous. But listen to His prayer, “Father, please take this cup from Me, but not My will but Yours be done.” Whatever Jesus asked or brought before the Father, He did in His Name with God’s will at the epicenter of His life.
Growing up, I was not a Christian and I would not have understood the very divergent definitions of hope. Now, many years (and children) later, hope is a light that encourages me to persevere even when things seem more than I can manage.
The other day, I got together with a group of ladies and their teenage daughters. During our craft time, everyone created a hope chest.
The hope chest originated in 15th – 16th century Italy. In Medieval Europe, marriages were arranged in order to benefit both families either financially or in terms of social standing. The groom and his family would pay the bride’s family in money, land or business ownership in order to secure the union. In return, the bride’s family would provide a dowry. The bride would come into the marriage with everything necessary to ‘keep house’. Linens, needlework, glassware, china, silverware and even furniture would be gathered throughout the young woman’s life. The larger the dowry, the greater the incentive for prospective grooms. Even families with limited means would work diligently to fill the chest.
Remembering back to when I was a young bride, I can think of many things that I wished for to make our house a home and to help us get started. In retrospect, even though we did not have a lot of things, we were both passionate about growing in the Lord. We would often be studying our Bibles and send crossed emails sharing the same passages of Scripture.
Because our focus was Christ centered, He was at the heart of our relationship and when things got tough, we were always able to work through them because of our hope and trust in His faithfulness. Just as maidens throughout history have filled their hope chests with “things” for their futures, I thought it might be beneficial for us to take a look at what we would like to store up.
Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Consider that you will one day be married to the man of your dreams. If you were to open your hope chest, what would you want him to find inside? What if we renamed the hope chest a heart chest? In other words, if the treasures inside your heart chest were revealed, what would they say about you? About who you want to be? About how you plan to get there?
I have some favourite verses that always bring me back in focus with the Lord when I am discouraged or struggling.
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing: that He which hath begun a good work in you will carry it out to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying, Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Exodus 15:13 In your unfailing love, you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength, you will guide them to your holy dwelling.
Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. The Bible encourages us to ‘hide’ God’s Word in our hearts.
Psalm 119:10-11 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
What are some of the verses you would include in your hope chest to help you with your growing relationship?
If you stop to consider those with whom you spend most of your time, you will realize that the things that are important to them are, in large part, important to you, too. This commonality becomes the basis for your relationship. It makes sense then, that if we are wanting to grow more like Jesus that we must spend time with Him.
Think about your schedule. How do you allocate your time? Have you been wanting to give more time to the LORD but just not sorted it out yet. If you wrote down your plan to make it happen and tucked it into your hope chest, when you find yourself getting off track, you can always go back and reaffirm your commitment.
Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will. The Bible instructs us to use our bodies as living sacrifices for the LORD. How are you doing that? Have you asked the LORD about what it is He has for you?
At our church, the children often talk about “God sightings”. Sometimes the stories are about sunsets or chocolate chip cookies that break into just the right number of pieces. Other times, however, deeper more personal accounts are given of someone struggling with an issue and God speaking to them through circumstances, events, Scripture or even another person. Have you ever kept tract of how God guides you? Does that reaffirm to you how much He loves you? Does it help you to carry on when it’s not easy? I have heard of many people who keep journals of answered prayer. This is another great way to remember God’s faithfulness and why you can place your hope in Him. Perhaps you are not a journaler but you could jot a quick note acknowledging an answered prayer.
One of my all time favourite hymns is ‘My Hope is Built’. It is often called ‘The Solid Rock’.
My Hope Is Built Text: Edward Mote, 1797-1874
Music: William B. Bradbury, 1816-1868
Tune: THE SOLID ROCK, Meter: LM with Refrain
1. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. Refrain: On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.
2. When Darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on his unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil. (Refrain)
3. His oath, his covenant, his blood supports me in the whelming flood. When all around my soul gives way, he then is all my hope and stay. (Refrain)
4. When he shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in him be found! Dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne! (Refrain)
1 Peter 3:3-4 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellry or fine clothes. Rather it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.