By Michael Risley
In 2013, my wife Joanie and I got some unsettling news. Our daughter Amy, expecting her first child, was going into labor – and it was seven weeks before her due date. Our first reaction was to panic. Then we realized we needed to stay calm and trust the Lord. We prayed,
“Dear Father, we know You’ve got this! You are sovereign and You are good. Instead of being afraid for the well-being of Amy and our grandchild, our hope is in You. Please protect Amy’s health and may this grandchild, though premature, be healthy and strong and grow up to live a life that is fully devoted to You and to Your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
We flew home and went straight to the hospital where we saw Amy and her husband Jason and our new grandson, Landon. By God’s grace, Amy was doing well. However, our hope that Landon would be healthy was put to the test as he stayed in the hospital for five weeks.
The good news is that today he is a thriving 5-year-old who loves Jesus. Not long ago he told me only Jesus could pick up a whale! It’s good to have a grandson who is learning that our God is strong.
As our family looks back on this challenging time, we are affirmed again to always place our hope in our great God.
Psalm 62:5-6 says, “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly, he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.”
The word hope in the Hebrew literally means “a cord, as an attachment.” Every one of us is hanging on to something or someone for security. The critical issue is: Are you holding onto God?
For He alone should be our hope, our attachment to security. Hope looks to the future and its strength is based upon God and His faithfulness. Hope is the expectation that God has something good for us, even if it does not match our desires (Romans 8:28).
Hope is similar to the expectations of a child running downstairs on Christmas morning, eager to open whatever gifts are given, knowing that they are given in love.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
How can hope become more powerful in your life? One of the best ways I know is by meditating on the hope-filled promises of God.
As a pastor, I am constantly in touch with people who are really hurting because of relationship challenges, financial woes, health issues, even pending death. When a person talks to me about their pain, I want them to experience greater hope in the Lord. So I focus upon the hope that God is there for them and He will help them, whatever the outcome.
The Scripture I often give to help instill this hope is Isaiah 41:10 where God says, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
I encourage you today to write this hope-filled promise from God on a 3 X 5 card and to “marinate” on it. That is, to memorize and think about it constantly. Then every time you are fearful or discouraged, pull out the card, read it, pray it, and visualize how you would feel and act if you truly believe what it says.
God can change the way you think as you embrace the truth of God and reject the lies of Satan and this world (see Romans 12:2; 1 John 2:15-17).
The hope we have in the Lord is truly a wondrous gift! My prayer for you is in Romans 15:13 which says, “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.”