For the past several weeks, I have been carefully evaluating all of the areas around my house where I planted hostas last year, waiting to see if the hardy perennials made it through the winter. Most of them weren’t looking all that good by the end of their first growing season last fall, but I was hoping the root structure was more vibrant than the leaves appeared to be.
In the last few days, each time I go outside, I have been pleasantly surprised to see the new leaves of another plant poking through the mulch and stretching out toward the sun. Today, I found the last one. They all made it!
I’ve been thinking about these scrappy little plants a lot lately as I consider what it means to have hope. Last year, I did all I could to give these plants a good shot at a long life — I chose the right location that receives the right amount of light. I fertilized the soil and kept them watered and weeded. But once the winter came, the whole process was totally out of my control. All I could do was hope that I had done enough.
In many ways, my hope to be healed from cancer has felt like the same sort of process. I have done everything possible to get rid of the disease: from choosing a good doctor to enduring chemotherapy to eating right and exercising. Now, I just have to wait and see what happens. Seeing hope in this way, however, has left me feeling a little hopeless. If my healing is ultimately up to me, will I be able to do all that I need to? And what happens when the next trial comes, the one that will make having cancer seem small? Where is my hope then?
Thankfully, the Bible speaks of hope much differently. Hope is not doing everything we can and waiting to see what happens. In God’s economy, hope is much more certain than this.
For one thing, hope is a gift from God, not something we muster up in ourselves. Psalm 62:5 says, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.” Hope also is developed in our lives through the difficulties we encounter. Romans 5:3-5 says, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
But mostly, the kind of hope that Jesus gives us and massages into our souls through trials is a hope of certainty. Paul says in Colossians 1 that our hope is stored up in heaven and is the result of faith in Christ. Peter says in 1 Peter 1:3-5 that our hope is living and will not fade or spoil. And the writer of Hebrews exhorts us to “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). Ultimately our hope is a sure thing because God is a sure thing.
This is the kind of hope I need in the uncertainty of life.
I will be getting my next round of blood work next week. In the meantime, my hair is starting to grow back ,and I am getting stronger and more energetic!