Like many words, the meaning of the word ‘hope’ has changed in our contemporary culture. We have distorted and watered down the concept of Hope. Today we say: “I hope I can get something together for MOPS tomorrow while I am sitting with Beth’s laptop in front of KJ’s TV programs.” [KJ is the grandson I watched when his mom went to law school] KJ has been home sick two days this week; I am about in need of adult conversation as you all are! The modern use of the word hope carries uncertainty—maybe it will happen and maybe it won’t, which is not very encouraging. We say we “hope” we can afford a new dress, or that it will go on sale, or that our husbands will get home early—none of those things are a certainty!
On the contrary, the Scriptural meaning of “hope” carries a strong conviction of certainty, but it is for a future time: such as the hope of heaven. For those of us who trust in the Savior, heaven is a sure thing, based on the reality of Christ’s redeeming work on the Cross and the unfailing promises of the Creator God Himself. No doubt, but for a future time.
Recently I shared some experiences I had with my children when they were little, and one of you MOPS gals replied: “That is why you are here, you give us hope.” And that is true, I always say that as mentor mom I am living proof that you will survive your toddlers–you will out-live them. You can look at the “kids” I tell my stories about: Beth is an attorney with a statewide law firm, Candace works for the Greenbrier, both have survived painful divorces and come out better, Tom is a Lt. Col. in Special Forces, Dave is a competent, hard-working contractor, and Steve raises millions of dollars for the Washington-Lee University Foundation. Yet Beth slept in our bed for years, Candace arrived at church without her panties, Tom almost died of spinal meningitis, Dave started a forest fire, and Steve rolled around on the floor crying over his sunburn. You have heard even more stories of my children growing up, and some of the difficulties we walked through with them. You have also heard tales of their separating as they matured. You can have the sure hope, the knowledge that the difficult phases will pass and your child will mature—in a future time.
Hope is closely linked with faith, but they are different. When Tom was convulsing for four days, I could not have Hope that he would survive intact, with no lasting damage, because that was far from a sure thing. I could have hope that if even he did die, we would be together in heaven—in a future time. For those who have lost children, either to abortion, miscarriage, or illness, heaven is the hope that we can cling to, the hope that keeps us. Jack Hayford has a beautiful book: I’ll Hold You in Heaven. God has given me two glimpses of my grandson who awaits me in heaven, and I cling to the hope, with no doubt, that I will see him there.
I could have faith during the four days I stood by Tom’s bedside. I could trust that God would work all things together for our good, knowing He is a good Father Who wants to make us like Jesus so the world might know His love, His goodness, and His care. Faith is now, and faith gives us peace. Faith and hope work together.
Tom’s illness, when he was six months old, was a life-changing time for us, a time of real trial. Paul wrote to the Romans that he “exulted” in his tribulations knowing that: “tribulation brings about perseverance; R206 4 and perseverance, R207 proven R208 character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does R209 not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured R210 out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:4)
The key to surviving parenting is having this sure hope, but it comes through preserving through the trials, the trials of critical illnesses, willful behaviors, disappointments, all the myriad tribulations of parenting. Think of it as developing your character. Parenting has taught me that my Heavenly Father is most concerned with the development of my character, maturing me as a person, carving and molding me to the image of Christ. Trials do that to us, if we keep our hope in Him. If you signed on to parenting, you signed on to those times of trial and difficulty—let God use them to make you a better, more mature person. I always say that my kids taught me more than I ever taught them! You will learn and grow, or you will break—in the Old Testament God told His people: I have set before you life and death, therefore chose life. Choose to walk through those times of trial leaning on the Father’s bosom, choose to persevere, so that you may live and develop proven character and hope.
If it gives you hope to look at me, OK, but you would do better to look at Him, Who once suffered and died to give you eternal life and now lives to plead with God on your behalf. (New Living Translation, Hebrews 7:25).
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