What is hope? What exactly does it mean to be hopeful— especially in such unprecedented, turbulent times?
My mind goes back to 2012 when I was barely hanging on. Something happened to me beyond my control and I was suffering physically. I didn’t know whether I would live or die or if what I was experiencing would be my new normal. It was a scary time, to say the least.
I began to cling to God like never before, and I found things to watch on YouTube that provided me with hope. Testimonies of people who had come out of excruciating pain or been healed of “untreatable” illnesses gave me hope. I could not watch anything on TV that increased my fears. That meant muting the ads for medication that detailed all sorts of awful side effects. I listened to the Bible on my phone and wrote Scripture verses on notecards that dealt with fear, hope, healing, and other topics. I put the cards all over my house where I could see them. I memorized the verses and hid them in my heart. Some of these notecards are still on my mirrors and walls. One of my favorites is Romans 15:13 (Amp):
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you will abound in hope and overflow with confidence in His promises.
I had to believe that I would be stronger for having gone through this experience. And you know what? It took some time, but God brought me through and made me stronger. I have to believe He will do this again in the time of Corona.
According to Strong’s Concordance, the Greek word for hope is “elpís (from elpō, “to anticipate, welcome”)– properly, expectation of what is sure (certain); hope.”
This truth reminds me to focus my attention on a God who never changes and to remember what He has done for me in the past. He is still good even in the midst of incredible suffering and turmoil. I find myself going back to limiting what I watch or read about the virus. I’ve been watching a lot of Hallmark feel-good movies; listening to praise music from the ’90s because that gives me comfort in some way; working on things that give me hope for the future (writing); and, of course, making sure I spend time with God and having a daily quiet time meditating on Scripture. I’ve been doing a few online Bible studies that have been helpful, too.
I know I will come out of this changed. It will be up to me to choose hope, not despair. I know if I rely on God, He will bring me through stronger and more compassionate.
But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand. Isaiah 64:8 (NKJV)
I love what Christian author Lysa TerKeurst says about potters and clay:
Lysa learned from a friend (whose mother makes pottery) that a wise potter knows how important it is to add some dust, called “grog,” to new clay. “To get this grog, the broken pieces must be shattered to dust just right. If the dust is shattered too finely, then it won’t add any structure to the new clay. And if it’s not shattered enough, the grog will be too coarse and make the potter’s hands bleed. But when shattered just right, the grog dust added to the new clay will enable the potter to form the clay into a larger and stronger vessel than ever before. And it can go through fires much hotter as well. Plus, when glazed, these pieces end up having a much more beautiful, artistic look to them than they would have otherwise.”
Well, that’s my prayer for me, and for you, too: that God will use the dust from our shattered lives to make us into something even more beautiful than we can ever imagine.