Finding Hope in Expectant Hope

I have a friend who is fighting a tough battle with cancer, and today she has a new appointment with a new doctor in a new place for a new round of hope in her future.

I often don’t know what to say to someone else who is fighting a battle, but it’s just in my God-given nature (truly, not of my natural self) to pray that people never give up hope. So, I do.

Wondering hope leaves us wondering.
Expectant hope leaves us expecting.

There’s a huge difference between these kinds of hopes, and my prayer is that she can find even more expectant hope through her trial—more than she’s already had to muster up in all phases of this years-long journey.

“Expectant hope is powerful and never wasted.”

Those were some of the words I shared with her this morning as she reached out to her friends on social media before her appointment.


We’re all battling something. 

Maybe it’s cancer.
Maybe it’s abuse.
Maybe it’s racism.
Maybe it’s not being understood.
Maybe it’s legal trouble.
Maybe it’s prison.
Maybe it’s anger.
Maybe it’s pornography.
Maybe it’s bankruptcy.
Maybe it’s pride.
Maybe it’s worthiness.
Maybe it’s food.
Maybe it’s smoking.
Maybe it’s our boss.
Maybe it’s our wayward child.
Maybe it’s our church.
Maybe it’s shattered dreams.
Maybe it’s loneliness.
Maybe it’s fear.
Maybe it’s our past.
Maybe it’s self.

Wondering hope leaves us wondering.
Expectant hope leaves us expecting.

My encouragement to you today (and it’s a needed encouragement to my own self-talk, too), is to stop wondering and start expecting. Expectant hope is powerful and never wasted, especially when you stop hoping in the circumstance, and begin hoping in That which is greater than the circumstance.

 


 

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Finding Hope in Hope

Welcome to June!

May was a magnificent month on so many levels. May brought sad endings, happy endings, fresh starts and new beginnings on my path throughout the month. Memories were made through milestone moments, love was shared and doors were opened.

May was also a tough month. Doors slammed closed on yet another round of hope, justice fell through a manipulative chasm, and loneliness ensued within a black hole of solitude.

June is here, and a new month is a new opportunity to mark a new round of optimism and hope… by choice, of course.

It is a choice.
It’s always a choice.

Within every given ending, start, beginning, milestone, anniversary, reminder, closed door, chasm
or black hole of circumstances, hope is a choice.

Do you hear that?
Hope… it’s a choice.

It’s a choice you have to make, and it’s a choice I have to make, too.

Don’t ever give up on it.
Don’t ever let the darkness overcome the light.
Don’t ever…

Choose hope.

May the God of hope
fill you with all joy and peace
as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
~Romans 15:13 (NIV)


What is your hope for June?
What is the darkness needing to be overcome by the light?
I’d like to pray for you, and I’d certainly appreciate your prayers for me, too.


 

Finding the Jackpot of Truth

CT.2-5
Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is the continuation of an earlier post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.


For we are God’s masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things
he planned for us long ago.
~Ephesians 2:10

The Comparison Trap:  Week Two, Day Five… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

Gosh, I just love this verse! I’m His masterpiece! That’s what the apostle Paul has shared with us from God’s own heart.

Even though there are times I don’t feel like anyone’s masterpiece (we all have our moments or days or seasons of feeling this way), just reading this in light of my relationship with Him makes me grin and let out a contented sigh.

Sandra Stanley calls it a “jackpot of truth” in the Comparison Trap devotional book. It’s a jackpot we already own… no rainbows to follow or leprechauns to find. The jackpot is already a part of our relationship with God, because of our faith in Jesus.

If you dig a little deeper into this amazing verse, you’ll come to realize that the new creation we became at the moment we received Jesus put His plan into further motion. The verse tells us that He has good things which He has planned for us, and He planned them long ago (well before we took a step into faith).

Sandra reminds us that the good things—the plans, the blessings, the circumstances—that He’s picked for me aren’t the same as the ones He’s picked for you. When we fall into the comparison trap by asking, “Why not me?”, we can know, in confidence, that God has something else planned… something He probably planned long ago, and something He’s personally chosen us for.

THIS is hope surrendered. It’s asking, “Why me?” or “Why not me?” and surrendering our wondering hopes to His plans and expectantly hoping that what He has planned is even better for us.

Instead of comparing our lives, our gifts, our talents and our blessings, we can have great confidence that the One who calls us His masterpiece is leading us toward and allowing us to experience just what He needs for us to be able to do the good things he planned for us long ago!

 


 

Monday’s Musings — At a Loss for Words

This has happened to me more times than I care to remember, and I know it has also happened to you:

Someone is hurting through their circumstances. You know it, and you have no idea what to say to them. So, you don’t really say much of anything.

When we’re at a loss for words because of the hurt another is experiencing and we choose to say nothing, we fall short of providing hope to them. The simplicity of a few words to tell your friend or acquaintance they are being thought of can lift them up. Saying nothing does nothing.

After going through my own devastating hurts in the last few years, I’ve experienced this from the other side, also. There were many times I’d run into someone who knew bits of what I was going through, but they’d skirt the topic, avoid me completely, or just stand there acting like nothing ever happened. I’m sure most never meant to be hurtful in their avoidance, but doing so did not help me at all. The people who offered me a kind word or thought were the ones who impacted me. They were the ones who offered me a piece of hope.

Yes, there are times when words are not necessary. You’ll know what that looks like with your closest friends. But, truly, how many times have you walked away from a co-worker, an acquaintance, a family member or a friend in pain and not said anything? I’m guessing when you did, your next few moments were thinking about YOURSELF and how YOU didn’t know what to say.

“Why didn’t I say something?”

“What should I have said?”

“Wow, I fumbled through that conversation.”

“I am so glad that isn’t me.”

“I am so glad my life isn’t that messed up.”

In these circumstances, why do we often think first of ourselves instead of thinking about the person who needs a glimmer of hope in their life? We, instead, have the choice and the chance to genuinely think about them and find a way to help them through their trial.

So back up.

Back up to the approach where someone is hurting through their circumstances. You know it, and you have no idea what to say to them.

This time, here’s what to say:

“I’m thinking of you.”

“I’m praying for you.”

“You have been in my thoughts.”

“I will continue to hold you in prayer.”

“I can’t begin to understand all you are going through, but, please know, I will pray for you.”

Do you see the hope? Do you see how you are still using the word “I,” but the focus has become about them and what YOU can do FOR them. Prayer does this.

When we lift others up in prayer, their trials begin to have hope. The amazing thing about this, too, is that when we have a chance to offer hope to others, we, in turn, feel more hopeful.

Finding Hope in the Circumstances

Lone Daisy

Why me? Why have today’s circumstances been allowed to be today’s circumstances in my life?

It’s a question I ask myself all the time. It’s a question that brings me HOPE (learned over a lot of hurt), because I know that I am a child of God, and I know that He has promised to bring me hope and to work all of these circumstances for good.

Jeremiah 29:11 brings the hope:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

and Romans 8:28 brings the promise:

“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.”

So what IS the point of today’s circumstances?

Are they to refine me? To define me?
Are there lessons to be learned by me? Or, are there lessons to be taught to others?
Am I meant to take away an opportunity for growth? Or, is the take away meant to be shown to others as an example of hope?
Are these circumstances a lifeline to what lies ahead? Or, are they a lesson of what needs to remain behind?

My checklist reveals a lot. The answers that I jot down reveal a lot. The answers are there. The original question begs for the additional questions to be asked. The answers are there.

God is speaking to me today. No, not out loud, but very profoundly. When I can lean on His hope and His promises and know them to be faithful and true, I will be able to sort out some of the answers. Then, maybe, just maybe, the dilemma will become another blessing.