A few years ago, Philip and I toured the ancient catacombs of Rome where thousands of early Christians are buried. As an expression of faith, when a believer died, a Christian symbol was carved into the marble tombstone. Hundreds of different symbols line the walls: a fish, a shepherd, an anchor. Maybe the anchor was inspired by Hebrews 6:19: "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."
What hope was the author talking about?
The firm expectation that the God who begun this work in me will finish it.
Jesus told us that in this world we would have tough times, but in the next breath, He promised that we should be of good cheer because He has overcome the world. Yes, you will encounter storms, but you can have hope because He will see you through!
I have heard that people can live about forty days without food, three days without water, and eight minutes without air. But they can live only one second without hope. Hope is more than optimism. In the New Testament, the biblical definition of hope implies a knowing, a sure expectation. When hopelessness fills your heart, death begins to take over — death to your dreams, to a relationship worth saving, to the idea that things will get better. The power of hope coursing through your veins can be your most valuable asset because it creates a tremendous force within you. Hope is not a luxury; it is an essential. Hope can change tragedy to opportunity, dreaded work to exciting, worthwhile effort, and weariness to invincibility.
Hope is for all of us. Not just those "glass half full" people. Hope is not wishing; it is not positive thinking. It is a sure expectation that God will do what He promised. Hope is like floaties. Have you seen children in a pool wearing those little floatation armbands in order to keep their heads above water? Hope is like that. It keeps you floating until you get to solid ground.
I have a friend who suffers from an eating disorder. Many people told her that she might get help for a moment, but that the disorder would be a continual battle for her. She was floundering in this storm. When I spoke with her, I assured her that there would come a day in which this issue would no longer be her struggle. She could find freedom. I told her stories of many women who have wrestled with this challenge and are now free. They did the work of dealing with issues in their soul, allowed the Holy Spirit to bring transformation, and are now completely on the other side of it. Healed. I reminded her that the same God who started a work in her would finish it. I reminded her of her value. In a sense, my words, "Cheer up!" — and more importantly, God's words — gave her floaties. Hope was born in her and enabled her to continue her swim toward shore.
What are you in the middle of that hope seems lost?
Maybe you lost your job.
Or your husband had an affair.
Or you can't seem to kick that addiction.
Or your child continues to struggle at school.
Or you hear the word cancer from your doctor.
Or you feel stuck in a dead-end job.
Or you wonder if the secret dream in your heart will ever come to pass.
How is hope possible? The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah has an answer:
I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.
(Lamentations 3:19-24, The Message)
Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is to keep hoping, and oftentimes, to keep a grip on hope will take both hands. Where are you drowning? Put on those floaties. You are being made stronger with every wave, and this storm is not bigger than the God who dwells in you. His name is Immanuel — God with Us.
Watch Holly Wagner this Monday on LIFE TODAY. Excerpted from Find Your Brave by Holly Wagner Copyright © 2016 by Holly Wagner. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.