The oncologist has tried every known treatment, and yet the cancer progresses. The TV cycles through images of a world in chaos. You check the messages on your phone - a payment past due, your kid's sick, work is waiting, and a friend has just posted how super hopeful she feels. You shake your head; and hit delete.
For many people, it's becoming harder and harder to be hopeful. Yet others with equally difficult circumstances, living in the same broken down world, remain very hopeful. Want to know the key? Keep reading.
In my own cancer journey, even as a person of faith, there were many times when I didn't feel hopeful. I expected the worst, imagined the most terrible outcome possible in great detail. My therapist called it doomsdaying and catastrophosizing. While those are great scrabble words; they won't win you any hope.
One of the lessons I learned in my cancer journey was about misplaced trust. I painfully discovered that I had put way too much trust in my self. My hard work and wits wouldn't win the cancer battle. My ministerial work couldn't save me either. Even my world reknowned oncologist could only do so much. After a year of treatment, the tumor in my lung took was gone, but only to be replaced by 40 brain tumors!
As long as I based my hope for the future on myself, my doctors, my job, my church, and even my dear friends and beloved family, the future looked bleak.
In the midst of it all, I heard God whispering two words: "Trust me." Words of Scripture echoing within me, like these from the Wisdom writer, reinforced the Lord's message.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
(Proverbs 3:5, NIV)
Placing all my trust in God was hard, and took some time. Doing so not only restored my hope. It gave me higher hopes than ever - hope for physical healing, hope for God's provision. I eagerly expected to see God work powerfully in my life. I looked forward to the ways God would continue to bless my marriage and children. I anticipated how God would use my cancer to enable me to serve others. Some would say I became ridiculously hopeful!
The Bible teaches that God is the"God of hope" (Romans 15:13). As long as there is God, there is hope. But God is the only one in whom we should place our hope. The Bible cautions us against placing our trust in anything else, including any and all human beings. "To trust in any man is an empty hope." (Psalm 108:11-13, TPT). "And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you." (Psalm 39:7)
To be clear, I still have hope in my doctors and in science, but, here's the difference, those hopes - and all my other hopes - live within my greatest hope, my greatest hope - God. God will use my physicians as his healing instruments. I have high hopes for my family, myself, my ministry, and our world. But all of these hopes are in God.
Recently I was asked in an interview, how I managed to stay hopeful and positive throughout my cancer journey. For me, the answer is simple. My hope comes from my faith in God.
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. (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV).
Discussion Question: How do you keep all your hope in God?
Here's a great, great song by David Crowder, "All My Hope."