My good friends Enoch and Grisham co-author an article “Some Ways Religion Meets Human Needs” it was a wonderful piece and got me to thinking about some of these ways. It got me remembering who I was as an Atheist and how I coped with certain situations and how I cope with them now as a Christian. And the one word that kept coming into my thought process was “hope”. Merriam-Webster defines hope: to cherish a desire with anticipation As an Atheist this is what I held on to many a time in my life, and many a time was let down and discouraged by this “hope”. When I learned my father had esophageal cancer I hoped that the chemo and radiation would rid him of that terrible thing. And it did, yet a year later he got Colon Cancer and again I hoped. This time my hope failed and he wasted away to a thin replica of the man I knew as my father and my hope was gone and so was he.
My mother had been over weight for years and a smoker. She was diagnosed with COPD and I hoped she would quit smoking. Once again I was wrong and she was admitted to the hospital not being able to breathe. I hoped again that doctors could help her and she would go home soon. I talked to her the day she went home and she was sounding good and was in good spirits. I told her I loved her and hung up. My hope was fulfilled; I could rest peacefully that night. IN the morning I got a call from my older brother. My mother was having difficulty breathing not long after I hung up with her and they called an ambulance. She had a massive coronary event on the way to the hospital and once again I had lost hope.
In my own life there have been things I hoped for. I was a pitcher in high school baseball, throwing 80-90mph fastballs I loved playing baseball it was the one thing I was really good at physically. I was signed to a contract right out of high school and went to play AAA ball. I excelled as a relief pitcher and the following year was called up. At Spring training I was getting stronger and wiser in my pitching. I thought that my hopes of playing professional baseball were final going to come true. Two games into Spring training I threw a pitch heard a pop an felt excruciating pain in my right shoulder. I had torn my rotator, and the doctors said they could fix and I hoped once more that it would be good. I but even though I had strength back in my arm the fastest ball I could throw was only 75mph I had lost my edge and I was cut. There are several other career choices that were hoped for and then once again lost because of physical limitations and other things out of my control.
When I look back on all of this I realize that I was in all of these cases hoping on hope. When things worked out my hope was realized when things did not I no longer had hope. Through the good times hope was my friend a warm companion that let me sleep at night and have joy in the day. Through the bad times hope was a dark tunnel with no light at the end, there was no peace and no joy. It took my 47 years to realize that you cannot hope in hope, there had to be something to attach that hope to so even in the bad times it is still there to give you peace. But where was this hope to be found? How do not hope on hope? When does hope no longer become an elusive dream but a reality?
Webster’s original dictionary of 1828 defines hope in a very different way: Confidence in a future event; the highest degree of well founded expectation of good; as a hope founded on God's gracious promises; a scriptural sense; Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy. Hope should be affixed to confidence, a promise, pleasure and joy? Hope should not be an illusion but something that is assured. That is the hope found as a Christian in God. Hope is based on God’s promises. The first of is that of never being alone no matter what you are going through. in Joshua 1:5 God says “ I will not leave nor forsake you”, Jesus says in Matthew 28:20 ´I am with you always even to the end of the age” A hope an assurance that you are never alone. God promises that He will always meet your needs. I Matthew 6 Jesus tells us that God will meet our every need a promise to provide; Jehovah Jirah God will provide. That does not mean I will no want but I have the hope/assurance that my needs will be met. In that I am content because when it comes down to needs they are but a few, when we really look at what we need not at what we want or think we deserve. Perhaps in this life the greatest hope comes from the assurance that no matter what I am going through it will in the end work for the good. We are told in Romans 8:28 “God works for the good of those who love Him.”, assurance that in the end it all is good. Perhaps the greatest testimony to this comes from Job, who not knowing why he suffered still trusted God and never turn his back on God. Knowing that in the end God was in charge and God would not forsake him. I am studying the book of Ezekiel and more times than I can count God says “So that they may know I am Lord” That statement rings so true in the hope that I have in Him. Perhaps the greyest of hopes is that given to my by Christ Jesus and His payment on the cross.
This is my story of hope, my journey from hoping in hope to hoping in God. Form assurance in me, myself and I and the assurance that I am not in this alone. It may not be like your story or it may be like your story. It may be a story that makes no sense to you and it may give you pause to think in a way you never have in the past. I do not know this, but what I do know is that it changed me and for that I am grateful and live a life full of joy, peace and contentment no matter what the circumstances.