Day Thirty-One: When Trusting Brings Hope

31 Days Relishing Hope Button

Today is a new month, so 31 Days is technically over, but I’m going to add this one last post because it happened yesterday and speaks to hope.

This summer, my doctors found some nodules in my thyroid which were causing me some issues. They’ve been testing things and medicating me and then taking me off of medication. It’s been a really fun time. Well, yesterday was the big appointment we were waiting for. I was scheduled to have an ultrasound and biopsy.

They prepped me for biopsy and started using the ultrasound to find the largest nodule. They looked and looked and there were no nodules to be found! The doctor said,  “We’re not doing a biopsy today. There’s nothing to biopsy!”

She checked and re-checked. She had the medical assistant read the findings from my June ultrasound. It said that I had so many nodules, they were “too numerous to count.”

So, just to be sure, my husband asked the doctor, “Does this happen? Do they just go away?” The doctor, who was already pretty flabbergasted at this point,  was not quite sure what to say. She said that it is not normal for them to disappear like this.

While the medical staff was regrouping and shuffling papers, my husband and I just quietly looked over at each other and smiled. This was the gift we had been asking for. Friends and family had prayed for this exact thing and here it was! A gift straight from His hands.

Dear Friends, I know that life is hard. There are so many different kinds of hardships. There are very real reasons to hurt and feel hopeless.  But I echo Paul’s words in Romans 15,  “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

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Day Twenty-One: In case you find yourself looking for hope today

There’s this lovely part in the movie, Hope Floats where Bernice, the daughter of Sandra Bullock’s character says, “My dad says that childhood is the happiest time of my life. But, I think he’s wrong. I think my mom’s right. She says that…

Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome. That’s what momma always says. She says that beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will, too…”

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Day Fourteen: One Who Stands in the Thick of the Whole Thing

31 Days Relishing Hope

Today at work, I spoke with a very angry person. She was tired, frustrated, and couldn’t find a solution in the options I was giving her. Through our multiple conversations today, she repeated one phrase. “Do you understand what I’m saying?” She would try to explain one way, and then another.  Then she would repeat it again. It got to the point where I thought, “Well, do I understand her?” So I tried to listen even harder. In between the words that she was literally yelling at me, I started to hear hurt and weariness. I couldn’t change the options I had to give her, but I could hear her out. Stephen Covey said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” I really had no replies left, so I  just listened. I even left some lingering silences just to make sure I understood all that I could.

Isn’t that what we all want in those hopeless moments in life? Someone to understand us. Even in the hardship of that phone call, my fellow co-workers started rallying around me to give their support and find her a solution. (I think they could hear how loud she was.) The better I got at communicating my empathy with her, the more her anger dissipated.

In this life, there will be plenty of times when things look hopeless. Times when solutions are hidden so deeply behind bad news and inconvenient life options, that we don’t even want try looking anymore. Been there. I’m sure you have too. But we have a steady and unchanging hope in Jesus. In Matthew 12 it says,

“Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen.
He is my Beloved, who pleases me.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not fight or shout
or raise his voice in public.
He will not crush the weakest reed
or put out a flickering candle.
Finally he will cause justice to be victorious.
And his name will be the hope
of all the world.”

In his book, Disciples Indeed, Oswald Chambers puts it this way, “Jesus Christ reveals, not an embarrassed God, not a confused God, not a God who stands apart from the problems, but One who stands in the thick of the whole thing with man.”

So, if you find yourself in one of those hopeless moments where anger is your language and solutions are nowhere to be found, please remember our hope is standing with you. He will not fight or shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.

Day Thirteen: When All Around My Soul Gives Way

31 Days Relishing Hope

Here’s some old school hope in the form of a hymn. I automatically sing along in my head, but even if you don’t know the tune, the words are encouraging. It’s easy to dismiss hymns, either because they are too familiar or are written in older language. It helps to think of the words as a prayer. Most of the old hymns, like this one, end on a really triumphant note so I like to think about joining in with all my brothers and sisters, past and present.

When I was in college, I got to attend Urbana, the YWAM missions conference. My favorite memories were of the worship services, singing along with over twenty-thousand brothers and sisters in the arena. Because there were people from all over the world, we sang familiar hymns in many different languages. It was a life changing experience. I knew that there were thousands of other believers all over the globe, but to see and hear them in one place was incredible! It was a small glimpse into what we get to enjoy in eternity. So when you get to that last verse, try to imagine the millions who have gone before, joining in with you.

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.

On Christ the solid rock I stand,

All other ground is sinking sand;

All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils his lovely face,

I rest on his unchanging grace.

In every high and stormy gale,

My anchor holds within the veil.

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.

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!

Day Eleven: Hope from His Mysterious Plan

Day Eleven: Hope from His Mysterious Plan. 31 Days Relishing Hope

 “I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.” Colossians 2:2

This last week, our family went on a little vacation to Southern California. We started our trip with a lovely stay in the mountains with some dear friends. Years ago, God assembled this random little group and I can’t begin to explain what happens to my heart when we are together. Back in the day, we would meet every Monday night in our living room in Los Angeles. We would bring all the joys and struggles of our days and lay them down at our Father’s feet together. For hours (not kidding), we would pour our hearts out to God. Have you had a friend advocate for you before the throne of Grace? I count these as some of the most precious gifts I have ever received.

During the time that this little group met, we were all doing the hard things of life. There were big changes, health issues, missions and ministry. To be quite honest, there was a lot of heartbreak and a lot of seeming impossibility. As we would come together to share what God had done, our stories were not usually the big, miraculous happenings that we were hoping for. Instead, they were a steady stream of faithfulness that looked much like the group He had knit together.

In Colossians, Paul says, “I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself.” As we walked together through the hard things, we caught glimpses of Christ. There was the knowledge that we were never really alone and the ability to do the very hard things, because dear ones were praying strength into the weak places. With every act of encouragement and sacrificial love came a better understanding of how God loves. And, even though, we wanted a different kind of answer to our prayers, the one He was offering was the very plan He has for us all. Himself.

Day Nine: Life Lessons from Helen Keller

Nine Life Lessons from Helen Keller. 31 Days Relishing Hope

As an expert on hope, Helen Keller has a lot of lessons to teach us about life. Here are nine lessons on our ninth day of Relishing Hope.

1. On Reality:

So my optimism is no mild and unreasoning satisfaction. A poet once said I must be happy because I did not see the bare, cold present, but lived in a beautiful dream. I do live in a beautiful dream; but that dream is the actual, the present,—not cold, but warm; not bare, but furnished with a thousand blessings. The very evil which the poet supposed would be a cruel disillusionment is necessary to the fullest knowledge of joy. Only by contact with evil could I have learned to feel by contrast the beauty of truth and love and goodness.

2. On Inspiration from Others:

I remember an hour when I was discouraged and ready to falter. For days I had been pegging away at a task which refused to get itself accomplished. In the midst of my perplexity I read an essay of Stevenson which made me feel as if I had been “outing” in the sunshine, instead of losing heart over a difficult task. I tried again with new courage and succeeded almost before I knew it.

3.  On Struggle:

I can say with conviction that the struggle which evil necessitates is one of the greatest blessings. It makes us strong, patient, helpful men and women. It lets us into the soul of things and teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.

4. On Work:

As my college days draw to a close, I find myself looking forward with beating heart and bright anticipations to what the future holds of activity for me. My share in the work of the world may be limited; but the fact that it is work makes it precious.

5. On Pessimism:

If I regarded my life from the point of view of the pessimist, I should be undone. I should seek in vain for the light that does not visit my eyes and the music that does not ring in my ears. I should beg night and day and never be satisfied.

6. On Going at Life:

From Browning I learn that there is no lost good, and that makes it easier for me to go at life, right or wrong, do the best I know, and fear not.

7. On Encouragement:

Who shall dare let his incapacity for hope or goodness cast a shadow upon the courage of those who bear their burdens as if they were privileges?

8. On Physical Pleasure or Material Possession:

Most people measure their happiness in terms of physical pleasure and material possession. Could they win some visible goal which they have set on the horizon, how happy they would be! Lacking this gift or that circumstance, they would be miserable. If happiness is to be so measured, I who cannot hear or see have every reason to sit in a corner with folded hands and weep.

9. On Hope and Confidence:

Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.