A while back, I read a beautiful account of how one mother trained hope in her child, and I immediately thought of Proverbs 13:12. It seems we humans can endure almost anything, as long as we have hope. Hope for change, hope for love or companionship, hope that whatever we are facing won’t last forever. Ultimately, our hope rests not in this world or the things of it, but the unchanging nature of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and His promise of heaven where He will indeed wipe every tear from our eyes. In the meantime, I believe He sprinkles a great deal of hope throughout our day. We just need to look for it, to grab hold of it, and not allow our concerns or problems steal that hope from us.
Today’s post comes from a sweet sister in Christ who has guest posted for me before, Cheri Swalwell. As you read her devotion, pause to consider how you can train hope as well, not just in your children, but in yourself.
Today’s reading: Proverbs 13
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12 (NIV)
Today’s focus: Choosing and grabbing hold of hope
This week’s memory verse: Proverbs 15:15 For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast (NIV).
Hope by Cheri Salwell
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. So, I started to distract him by talking about all the fun things he would do the next day, exciting activities he did that day, and sometimes, if his chuckles were extra loud, we would talk about the fun we would have all week. It put a smile on his face, giggles in his belly, and he would settle down easily so we could pray, sing, and rock a little before tucking him in bed. I didn’t realize how much he enjoyed it, until asking me what fun things he would do the next day became his evening ritual.
That was when I realized I was teaching him about hope. Not on purpose, 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 a 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, but I’ve had that feeling of hopelessness and I know how awful it 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, and 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 Proverbs 13:12, we learn that we can become physically ill when we lose hope, but something anticipated and achieved brings vibrancy and health.
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.
Cheri Swalwell is a wife, mother, and avid reader, but first and foremost she is a Christ follower. She has a degree in Psychology and has been blessed to be a guest on a variety of blogs including Christiandevotions.us, Circle of Friends, and Crosswalk.com/family. She is a regular contributor to book fun magazine. If you want to hear more about the heart she has for marriage, parenting, and relationships from a Christian perspective, feel free to visit her blog: http://journeysfromtheheartofawifeandmother.wordpress.com or “like” her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/cheri-Swalwell. She loves to interact with her readers, so feel free to connect with her at clSwalwell99@gmail.com.
Let’s talk about this. Where do you place your hope? So often, it’s easy to focus on the here and now, which isn’t entirely bad, unless that is the extent of our hope. How can focusing on eternity and the things of God bring about fresh hope?
Do you hope for spiritual things–like increased love, patience, kindness, and wisdom, as much as you hope for material things?
How diligent are you in guarding your thoughts? I believe we can and must control what we think about, continually turning our focus off of ourselves and onto the things of God.
What are some ways you intentionally grab hold of and/or teach hope?
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“It seems we humans can endure almost anything, as long as we have hope. Hope for change, hope for love or companionship, hope that whatever we are facing won’t last forever. Ultimately, our hope rests not in this world or the things of it, but the unchanging nature of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and His promise of heaven where He will indeed wipe every tear from our eyes…”
AMEN! This is so true.
Blessings, Unshakable Hope! And may God fill your day with the hope that comes from Him, the God of all hope. 🙂
OH my goodness, I get stuck so often I feel like I am walkiing in quick-sand most days. Thank you LORD that you are alive in each one of us. Great conversation today.
I loved a comment made by one of our Yahoo study members, and with her permission, am reposting it here:
As I went through this, I kept reflecting on this passage:
“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:22-28
This reminds me that; no matter what I go through, no matter the earthly outcome, how long it lasts, whether or not it will end in this life, etc…. In God’s economy IT IS NEVER FOR NOTHING. He never wastes pain or suffering, and what always brings my perspective and hope back around is remembering that EVERYTHING will one day be redeemed. I do not know how or why or what that redemption will look like, but the longer I walk w/ God, the more completely I trust Him and have no doubt that He will make all things right. If He does indeed work ALL THINGS together for my good, then that must include any pain and suffering I go through. Even when I screw up and God has to allow the consequences of my sin; the results are still for my good (just like when we have to discipline our children for their good). Because God doesn’t even punish us for our sin – not for punishment’s sake. No, he disciplines us and allows consequences that will teach us – teach us lessons that are for our ultimate good. He uses everything! It often blows my mind.
When I reflect on today’s lesson, coupled w/ the one a few days ago on kindness, and then our pastor’s message yesterday on the Body (from Eph 4); it prompts me to ask “In what and where am I placing my HOPE?” As I think about some of the most difficult events in my life, I see how God has used them to stretch me, my vision and my HOPE, to be more on Eternity. I despair less, and He can use me more when that is where my primary focus is. I don’t think we as fallen humans arrive at that naturally. We seem naturally focused on Me, Here & Now – well, that’s me at least. I must learn, typically through difficulty, to give my time and energy to pursuits that invest in Others and Eternity. I am very slowly learning, when difficulty comes, NOT to whine and complain and pray for it’s resolution and ending (although it is perfectly OK to pray for that); but rather to pause and ask Him to show me how He wants to use this difficulty to advance His Gospel & Kingdom.
I don’t know about you girls, but I still get stuck in the Here, Now & Me too often. This is why I need His Word and each other to remind me that we are part of something bigger, something eternal; and He wants to use each of us for it.
Cheri, thanks so much for these motivating words, and a reminder that I need not feel guilt when hoping. Jennifer, thanks for hosting another wonderful guest.