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Who Moved My Hope?

Who Moved My Hope?

What Is Hope?

I have a friend named Michael who, when he was in high school, went on a mission trip with his dad to Africa. While there, something tragic happened. He contracted a terrible disease that affected his kidneys. Since high school, he has been in and out of the hospital, been on dialysis, and has even been pronounced dead a few times. All in all, it’s been a terrible battle.

One day when I was in his neck of the woods, Michael and I got a cup of coffee together, and he told me something he felt God was speaking to him: “You have so much faith in who I am and what I can do, but you have no hope for your situation.” He proceeded to tell me how God was dealing with his hope. He told me that he believes anyone who has faith should also have hope, but that many people are missing this key life ingredient.

But what is hope? Why is it a key to our lives? Why do so many of us forget about it?

I remember Michael describing to me how hope is excitement for the future. He described it as a substance that we need today in order to make it into tomorrow. Almost like food, sleep, and water, it carries us through the day. It’s the belief that something even better is waiting for us.

The dictionary definition of hope is “a feeling that something good will happen or come true.” The word will is key to the definition.

When you have hope, you don’t think maybe something good will happen or wish that something good will happen. You have a feeling that there really is something better in store for you.

I love the way G. K. Chesterton, a Christian apologist and author, put it. In his book Heretics, he said:

Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate. It is true that there is a state of hope which belongs to bright prospects and the morning; but that is not the virtue of hope. The virtue of hope exists only in earthquake and eclipse… For practical purposes it is at the hopeless moment that we require the hopeful man, and the virtue either does not exist at all, or begins to exist at that moment. Exactly at the instant when hope ceases to be reasonable it begins to be useful.1

It is during our most troublesome moments, when the sky seems to be falling around us, that we need to cling to hope the most. When it doesn’t make sense, we must look “cheerfully” at the future.

As I sat at the coffee shop with my friend Michael, he continued to explain that he was learning how often he found himself having only faith — a belief that God was a great God who sent His Son Jesus and who forgave our sins — but not hope. “Now don’t get me wrong; faith is a great thing to have,” he said. “But what about hope? I’ve been trying more and more to be a man of faith and hope.”

I walked away from that coffee time feeling extremely challenged. Here I was, a pastor and a father with a very sick daughter. I had been traveling around the world proclaiming who I believed God was and proclaiming these truths over my daughter. “He did it for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He can do it for me!” I’d shout these truths from the pulpit with passion. And I believed it! Faith has never been a huge struggle for me. I truly believe that God is willing and able to help.

But where was my hope? Did someone move it? I swear it was around here somewhere.

Hope Deferred

It’s easy when things aren’t going exactly how we imagined to lose hope or joy for the future. Remember Proverbs 13:12? It says,

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

We’ve all experienced that ache when something we’ve hoped for doesn’t quite work out. Since Julia and I imagined our daughter being healthy and growing into a volleyball player while she was still in the womb, we obviously experienced a feeling of sickness when it didn’t seem that was possible. All parents hope for amazing things for their children, and when they’re forced to encounter the exact opposite, they are brokenhearted.

Hope Fulfilled

The beauty of Proverbs 13:12 is that it doesn’t deny the very human, painful reaction we have when hope seems lost, but it illustrates how it feels when things do work out for the good.

A longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Three years before writing this book, we felt God speaking to us to start a church in Los Angeles. I had always loved LA, where I went to school and first began youth pastoring, and God was calling me back there. Julia and I talked about it, prayed about it, and got excited about what lay ahead for us.

And then came April 10, 2012. When we heard Georgia’s diagnosis, everything was put on pause. Talk about hope deferred. God, you put this dream in my heart, and now I don’t get to go do it? What was the point of that? I felt an awful lot like Abraham, wondering how this whole promise thing was going to play out.

Our life was completely changed after April 10. No longer was it “Where are we going to go? What are we going to do next?” Our conversations changed to: “How can we take more time to rest? Where can I cut back on preaching every week? How can we focus on our family instead of leading for a season?”

It was hard on our identity as a family. Life was not going how we had planned. A few springs after living in Seattle and serving at a church while resting with my family, I felt God remind me of this dream again. It felt like the right time to do what I had been called to do. California, here we come.

Julia and I began planning, dreaming, getting everything in order; and months later, we were driving, two babies packed in car seats, all our stuff shoved into a trailer, to a new home waiting for us in Los Angeles. Like the proverb says, I felt alive. I was exuberant, ecstatic, smiling from ear to ear! I mean, I was walking around searching for anyone, strangers even, to give me a fist pound. I needed 24–7 fist pounds! That’s how good I felt.

Today, we now lead Zoe Church LA. Zoe in Greek means “abundant life,” because that’s what this new season is to us — a “longing fulfilled,” a “tree of life.” Every meeting, every gathering we have as we build this amazing group of people — they have been on my heart

for years. And here it is, coming to pass.

Hope fulfilled.

Where Do You Put Your Hope?

How tragic would it be to believe that there’s a God who created the universe, to believe in the stories, songs, poems, and letters of the Bible, to believe in Jesus and in the Holy Spirit, and to have all the faith in the world, but to not have any hope?

I have hope that something better is around the corner for Julia and me. I have hope that God will give Georgia a safe arrival, that whether in this life or the next, my daughter will be able to live to the fullest. She will be able to run, to talk, to dance, and more. Hope is carrying me through today’s aspirating woes and seizures. Hope is carrying Julia and me through life with a handicapped daughter who cannot communicate her needs to us.

As you face life’s trials and storms, what is it that you’re hoping for? I know that it’s easy to feel like giving up and it may seem embarrassing to have an audacious kind of hope that works against common sense, but it’s time to grab onto something that can carry you through tomorrow.

Perhaps it’s not so difficult for you to list out what you hope for. Perhaps it’s more difficult for you to answer the question, “Who do you place your hope in?” Maybe people have failed you time and again (which people tend to do). Maybe your dreams have been dashed or you’ve experienced failed expectations and life is not going how you planned. It’s time to place your hope in Jesus.

Psalm 33:17–19 says,

A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.

I know you probably don’t own a horse or relate to the first portion of this psalm. But replace horse with doctor, medicine, drugs, romance, my own strength, or fame, and you may begin to realize what David is talking about. Often if we do have any hope at all, we’re hoping in all the wrong things.

I know for Georgia, time and time again, Julia and I have placed hope in medicine or a doctor’s words and seen only failure. But as I look back on our journey so far and remember the moments when we’ve been able to face the next day, when we’ve felt the burden lifted or felt great joy, I realize these were the moments when we had placed our hope in God.

He will keep you alive when common sense says you should be dead. He will bless you when the world says you should be poor and alone. He will deliver you when you’re experiencing pain and suffering. He will give you more and more. This is what I’m eagerly anticipating. This is where I put my hope.

Watch the Video for Unreasonable Hope

  1. G. K. Chesterton, Heretics (Rockville, MD: Serenity Publishers, 2009), 82.

Excerpted with permission from Unreasonable Hope by Chad Veach, copyright Chad Charles Veach.

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Your Turn

No matter what your circumstances are today, where is your hope? Are you cheerful in desperate circumstances? That’s a tall order and yet, with Christ, a very possible one. Come share with us on our blog about your hope. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily