Wednesday Writings

Holding on to Hope in Chronic Illness

Hold unswervingly to the hope you profess, for I am faithful. Sometimes–especially when many things are going wrong–all you can do is hold on to Me. You would love to sort things out in your mind and find a way to go forward, but often this is impossible. The best thing to do at such times is seek My face and profess your hope.” (Hebrews 10:23, Psalm 27:7-8, I Corinthians 10:13)

Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, p 310

In a matter of days, this devotional and others revolutionized my perspective of hope.

First I read this devotional:

“Hope and courage go hand in hand. When you are waiting, waiting, waiting for long-for answers to prayer, it takes courage to continue hoping in Me. The world, the flesh, and the devil all tell you it’s easier to just give up and give in to dull disappointment. In a sense, this is true. To keep praying with positive expectation requires a lot of effort and perseverance; giving up is momentarily easier. However, a resigned, I-give-up attitude is always hurtful in the long run. Often, this leads to cynicism–and eventually to despair. So it’s well worth the effort to keep your hopefulness alive.

Courage comes from the French word for “heart.” Since I live in your heart, you can call upon Me to help you live courageously–facing adversity or danger with confidence and determination. I am well aware of your circumstances, and I take pleasure in helping you cope with them. So stand firm in My strength, beloved, refusing to give in or give up. I take pleasure in you always, but especially when you are bravely hoping in my steadfast love. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Ephesians 1:18-19, Psalm 147:11)

Jesus Today by Sarah Young, p 304

Then Emily sent me this devotional she’d read on the YouVersion Bible app:

“The idea behind the word we translate as hope in the New Testament is that it’s like an anchor for our souls. Not wishful thinking, but confident expectation. It’s a joyful certainty! As Christ followers, hope is having confidence that God is who He says He is, which brings forth expectation that He will do what he says He will do. Confidence is found in the character of God. As we learn who God is through reading the Word, we are able to have expectancy that his promises are true.”

Then I read the devotional quoted at the beginning of this post.

As I read and pondered these words, I realized I’d been looking at hope, even in its biblical sense of confident expectation, all wrong.

I wanted a guarantee, a promise, or a sign that I could come back to on my down days, something that would come find me, wrap around me, protect me, and lift me up. 

But that’s not the image we have from God’s Word. Hope is an anchor: secure, strong, unmoving. 

I’m the one who has to hold on to it.

If I drift, it’s not because hope has let go of me and needs to find me again. It’s because I’ve let go of hope and need to come back to it. 

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.

Psalm 42:5

Hebrews 6:19 tells us, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” 

But look at the verse before it, verse 18:

“that . . . we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us” (emphasis added).

FLED = our action

LAY HOLD = our action

SET = God’s action (also indicating the firm and accessible nature of hope)

Like anything, God has a part and we have a part.

God has already done His part–He’s provided that anchor, that cable of hope. It’s strong and unmoving and always there. 

Our part is to hold on, to lay hold of this hope and grip it and not let go–and when we do let go (because we’re human), to come back to it and wrap our hands around it again and cling to it no matter what buffets us or tries to pull us away. 

Hope doesn’t mean waiting for something to come pick me up. Hope means holding on to what I already have in and from God. 

Let me share an illustration. (I’m a huge Lord of the Rings fan, okay?)

In this scene from the last movie, The Return of the King, Frodo is hanging over the fires of Mount Doom, injured and exhausted, while the Ring of power is destroyed in the lava below him.

Sam, his faithful companion from the beginning, has followed him even into Mount Doom and is trying to keep him from falling after the Ring:

If Frodo had let go of hope, he would have let go of the mountain, of Sam and would have fallen and died. Sam tells him to reach, to hold on. So Frodo reaches, and holds on, and Sam pulls him to safety.

Sam personifies the hope we have in God: always there, always reaching out to us, always ready to help.

We’re Frodo. No matter how close that hope is, we still have to make the effort, in God’s Spirit, to reach out, take hold of that hope, and not let go.

My friend, I don’t know what you’re going through in your valley. But I do know that God is with you, that He wants to help you, and that His hope is always there for you.

Don’t let go.

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