“Hope is not in a specific outcome, our hope is in God!” Pastor James Sunnock
Every year I ask God for a special word for the following year. For 2015, God granted my request earlier than usual. He revealed the word He wanted to give me back in October: Hope. I asked for confirmation and everywhere I turned, I was seeing the word “hope” so I was confident I had heard Him correctly.
After realizing hope was the word I was given, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to accept. To me, hope meant that whatever we were “hoping” for wasn’t going to happen but instead was going to stay out in the distance and I didn’t want that. I was tired and wanted to see progress in the areas where I had been faithful and while I didn’t ask God for a new word, I “hoped” maybe I didn’t fully understand the definition of what hope was.
At the same time, I was reading in Hebrews, especially Hebrews 11 which is otherwise known as the famous faith chapter of the Bible and got even more discouraged. You see, in that particular chapter, most of the people named were known for their great faith (Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Moses’ parents to name a few) but as it states very clearly in verse 39, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.” (NIV) I wondered if God was telling me my dreams of better times were just that…dreams, wishful thinking, unrealistic goals. What made me think I was special or different from the people in the Bible? If they died still “hoping,” then what made me think my life would have an alternate ending? Instead of being hopeful, I was quickly feeling hopeless.
However, as God’s child, I don’t believe He wanted me discouraged. And when I’m honestly confused and not being stubborn, He also loves me enough to sort out that confusion and bring clarity.
So I began asking…and reading His Word to find out what exactly was the difference between wishful thinking and true hope. They may look the same on the outside, but internally they are very different. Wishful thinking is just that…a wish. There is always a question mark as to whether or not what I’m desiring will occur or not. And, for me, I find that wishful thinking usually centers around my wants, my wishes. A more selfish type of hope. A “What’s in it for me?” question and “How will this affect my life?” instead of how can my actions and response to this mission I’m called to do help fulfill Jesus’ goals for my life?
So then my question turned to how do I attain genuine hope and not wishful thinking? And I grappled with that question for about six weeks…until God shared the final puzzle piece with me at the beginning of our church’s advent observation.
Come back next time and find out how God showed me the Truth about the word hope.
© Cheri Swalwell 2014