Updated: Jun 1, 2020
Whether we are facing cancer, COVID-19, another crisis, or the challenges of life, we all need hope. Never have we needed it more. Being without hope is more than a downer; it's dangerous. Fortunately, we can move from being hopeless to hopeful today.
Upon being diagnosed with cancer, I had no idea what to expect. Would I be alive by the end of my children’s school year? Would I suffer and be sick? Could the cancer be cured? I easily imagined the worst possible outcomes and felt hopeless.
Fortunately, my faith in God gave me hope. As I prayed, reflected, and wrote about my experience, connecting faith and cancer, I discovered more reasons for hope than I had ever imagined. God used my cancer, to make me more hopeful!
What is Hope?
Before we get into how, let’s talk some basics about hope. To start with, what is hope?
According to Webster’s dictionary, hope is both a verb and a noun. In case you aren’t a grammar geek, that means it’s both something we do and something we have.
In terms of a verb, to hope is to desire, anticipate, or expect something. For example, we hope for a vaccine for COVID-19. Or I hope my CT and MRI scans are clear.
As a noun, hope can be a desire accompanied by belief, or someone or something on which we center our hopes. In this sense, there is hope for a vaccine, and God is our hope.
You can choose to hope. You can decide to take the action of hoping. You can decide to desire, anticipate, or even boldly or brazenly expect something. It’s your call.
Choosing your hopes is also "your baby." You decide what your hopes will be. Yes, you can have more than one. You can have, in fact, as many as you like. Your only limit is your imagination and your faith.
My first hope was to be cured of cancer. But I also hoped that I would become more courageous, and more faithful, and more like Jesus. I hoped to become a better husband, parent, and friend. The list of my hopes grew daily.
Choosing the person or the object upon which you will center your hopes is also your decision. I can choose for God to be my hope. The scientific community can be my hope. In fact, both, and anything else you want, can be your hope.
You may choose to follow the Psalmist’s lead. “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5, NIV
Having Higher Hopes
On your own, you are free to hope for anything your mind can conceive. With faith in God, your hopes can and will surpass all you have ever or could ever imagine. God has higher hopes for you, than you do, and will gladly share them.
God's for hope for you include healing, life, friendship, provision, heaven, and wonderful plans.
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
When we are finding it difficult to hope, when we are hoping against hope, God’s Spirit will welcome our invitation to dwell within us and cultivate and inspire hope.
In addition to knowing God’s plans for us, we can also know God’s help in realizing those all our hopes. Our chances of success will be greatly increased. Many things you can do on your own, but sometimes you can use an Almighty hand!
God so sent Jesus to preach hope and to help.
Jesus ministered from place to place throughout all of the province of Galilee. He taught in the synagogues, preaching the hope of the kingdom realm and healing every kind of sickness and disease among the people (Matthew 4:23, TPT).
With Jesus, we can experience the help of the One who can heal “every kind” of sickness and disease. As the hymn proclaims, “We can ponder anew what the Almighty can do.”
Everyone Needs Hope
The importance of hope in the cancer experience is well documented. In a book I'm reading about providing pastoral care to cancer patients, the author referenced scientific studies showing the impact a patient’s hope has on his or her physical healing.
A few days ago, I read a Facebook post from a new member to a group I belong to of patients and survivors with the same type of lung cancer as mine. After introducing herself and sharing her story of being diagnosed, she said “...but we have hope.”
Her words jumped off the page, reminding me again of the importance of hope. I felt glad for her and her loved ones, because I know how much it means. It also caused me to again consider the many without hope.
Hope isn’t just for cancer patients. If your normal has been nuked, dreams have been destroyed, or calm has turned to chaos; if the unquestionable has become uncertain; if you feel threatened... existentially, you need hope.
Start Hoping Today
Whatever is going on, and I mean whatever, you can have hope. In fact, you can be filled with hope, overflowing with hope. You just need to name and claim your hopes and start hoping. And remember always, God is the God of hope.
Here’s an exercise to help you get started. Get out a pen and a piece of paper or swipe or click your way to a blank screen. Make a list of fifteen hopes. If you can come up with more, please do.
Once you have your list of hopes, you know what to do. Start hoping! Spend some time excercising your ability to hope.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13, NIV).
Discussion Questions. What are a couple of your greatest hopes? What helps you keep your hopes up? How have more hoping and more hopes impacted your life? Please share.
Check out these songs that may inspire your hoping:
All My Hope by David Crowder
My Hope is Built on Nothing Less
SOS by We the Kingdom