By, Stephanie Bowman
"I hope I get that promotion!"
"I hope it doesn't rain."
"I hope they have that in my size."
Hope. A word we use arguably every day. The word itself causes a glimmer of something wonderful that courses through our minds. What does hope mean to you?
My favorite definition of hope that Webster gives is "to desire with expectation or with belief in the possibility or prospect of obtaining; to look forward to as a thing desirable, with the expectation of obtaining it." Before I go any further, I want to give some background on why I chose to study the word hope, and how it relates to us as Christian women.
In March of 2010, my husband and I rushed to the hospital, only to be told in a very cold manner that our second child, whom we named Malachi, had passed away at 12 weeks gestation. It was a very devastating time in our lives, and one thing that I was left with on that terrible night was the feeling of hopelessness. As a Christian, I knew that hope was something that we have in Christ. Growing up in the church, I knew all the answers...Jesus was there, He had a reason, He is with you. I knew these things like I knew my own name, and I believed them. But that didn't erase the pain that I felt. From the moment I knew there was a tiny life growing inside of me, my heart was gone. I was completely and utterly in love. I never once thought that the child inside me would not live to see my face. Walking out of that hospital, I felt a dark cloud of hopelessness, accompanied with guilt, settle over my heart.
Hope is a theme that is very prominent in the Bible. Abraham had hope that he would have many descendants. Moses had hope that God would lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Daniel had hope that God would deliver him from the lions' den. Stephen had hope that if he remained faithful to God, he would see Heaven. It doesn't end there. Right now though, I would like to stay a little while and talk about Hannah. Hannah hoped for a child. How many of us have been there--hoping that God would choose to bless us with a child? Some of us get that blessing right away. Others of us have that pain of waiting, or getting that blessing in other ways. But it's there. Hope. How do we let it influence our attitude each and every day?
Hannah went through what many women today face: infertility. I cannot even begin to understand the pain that comes with infertility, but my heart aches with pain when I meet someone that is going through the trial of infertility. We do not know how long Hannah dealt with this trial in her life. What we do know is that Hannah was a woman of prayer, and with prayer comes hope. She begged God for many years to bless her with a child. All of this was in faith and hope, not even knowing if He would hear her prayers, but always believing that one day, He would bless her with a son.
While I went through the pain of that miscarriage, I sought the Lord and begged him, not for answers, not for a "why", but rather for that hope that I had lost to be back in my life. That is when He laid Hannah on my heart. I must have read her story a dozen times in the week after we lost Malachi--and then, He spoke. He led me to a verse that has been my lifeline all of these years since.
"'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.'"
I knew that God had a plan, and that plan was for my future- -a plan to give me that hope that I so desperately wanted. God knew all along that we would lose our son, and He knew what would come of it. He makes beauty from the ashes. God does not desire for you to have no hope and no future. He constantly shows us in His word that He has a plan for our lives. It may not be what we expect, or even want, but it is His plan. For Christians, we have the hope of Heaven. We have that hope that one day we will be face to face with our Lord and Savior. Romans 5:2 says, "By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." Think about that...the glory of God. How blessed are we to have the hope that we will be able to stand in the glory of God--the Creator of the universe, the Father of us all.
When I think about the gift of hope, I am so thankful that God gave me that time in my life where I had to actively seek and discover that hope that was still planted deep in my soul. He had never left me, He had never taken away that hope from my heart. I just needed to go on that journey through His Word and rediscover that hope that He had given me from the start. Every March and October (when he was due), I am reminded of that journey that I still am on as each year passes. I see others who are on a similar journey and my heart lifts them up in prayer. I thank God as I remember those verses that are imprinted on my heart, that He is the ultimate source of comfort and hope. I pray that you, too, will never lose sight of that hope, and that you "will hope continually, and will praise you yet more and more." Psalm 71:14