It seems that the books I have recently read have a bit of sadness to them. The stories do not include the illusion of “riding off in to the sunset” or “living happily ever after.” Yet, reading is one activity where I find solace. Bittersweet stories always provide me with a sense of hope. As I read I find a realization that I am not alone in my plight. Ultimately, this knowledge relieves my anxiety and relaxes my emotions. God is with me through thick and thin. On this fact alone, I have hope.
The word hope occurs 130 times in the Bible. Within the pages of scripture, hope springs forth. Passage after passage provides readers with reassurance that in times of strife there is always hope. Jeremiah 29:11 is just one example: “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.” This verse is a solid reminder that God does have a plan, even in moments that seem foggy and unclear.
Several years ago I was preparing to live in Rwanda for a year. The changes that were to occur loomed large in my mind and created great anxiety. More than once I was comforted by the words written in Psalm 139:7-10:
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
The challenges of life have taught me and continue to teach me that God is definitely with me even on the most difficult of days. Where there is nothing else on which I can rely, I know there is One who does speak to my condition and leads me. All of the ups and downs, heartaches and exhilaration I experience are but threads woven together as a tapestry created by God. As I stand back and view the beauty of his work, I am filled with gratitude.
Hope and gratitude are linked together. Whenever I express gratitude, I find hope is renewed. Continually expressing gratitude develops reassurance that God will complete the work he started. Although the expression of gratitude is difficult in the midst of the darkest places in life, doing so renews energy and a sense of purpose.
In the book, The Beatrice Letters, Lemony Snicket admonishes: “Strange as it may seem, I still hope for the best, even though the best, like an interesting piece of mail, so rarely arrives, and even when it does it can be lost so easily.” Hope can be elusive, but with gratitude it springs eternally.
Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Wine attends University Friends Meeting in Wichita, KS. She recieved her Masters of Social Work from Wichita State University, and currently provides play therapy services at an elementary school. Additionally, she works part-time at her meeting as Director of Children’s Ministry.