As a mom of two boys, I hope for a lot of things.
I hope my boys won’t end up in the ER after leaping from the bedroom dresser to the bed and then back to the dresser (true story).
I hope they will obey their teachers and be kind to their friends.
I hope they will learn to enjoy all the green foods.
I hope they will be strong, faithful men.
I hope they will love Jesus.
Plus a million other things!
Sometimes I see fruit of the things I hope for. Like when one of my boys says something kind to his brother. Or memorizes a Bible verse. Or tries a new food.
But sometimes the things I hope for don’t actually happen. Like when I hoped to get pregnant quickly and it took over four years. Or when my boys were babies and I hoped they would sleep through the night and then they would be up all night with reflux issues. Or when I hoped my baby would be healthy and we ended up being in the NICU for three months.
What do we do when this happens?
FREAK OUT—that’s what.
Ha! Totally kidding—but not really. I have a track record of derailing when my dreams don’t come true. Whining, fussing, resisting, despairing—it hasn’t been pretty. But the Lord is a good Father who loves me too much to let me carry on that way!
So He gave me some encouragement to help me hope in a way that honors Him.
Hope with Open Hands
The dictionary defines hope as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.”
The key word in this definition is expectation and it can play a dangerous role in our hoping.
When I was pregnant with our first son, I was determined to have an all-natural birth. I spent nine months planning and preparing for what I hoped would be a seamless and beautiful natural birth in which I heroically endured pain and shared the gospel with the nurses in between pushes.
In the end when our doctor insisted that we have a C-section, I absolutely panicked. Disappointment and despair threatened to rob me of the joy-filled gift that is having a baby at all! For years I wrestled with this reality and struggled to believe God loved me because He didn’t give me what I had hoped for.
My hope had become an expectation.
Please don’t misunderstand, it is good to hope for things and dream for positive outcomes! I fully support having a childlike faith that believes that God can do anything—the impossible, even! Hope is a huge part of our carrying out His mission here on earth.
But clench-fisting our hopes can encourage fear to grow so that our response to unmet expectations is one of frantic distress instead of unshakeable peace.
The answer is taking our hopes and holding them before the Lord with open hands.
Open-handed hope says, “Your will be done,” and trusts that God will do the best thing for us, whether our dreams come true or not.
That is an expectation that will not disappoint.
Hope in His Word
When our second son was born with several health complications, I often turned to friends, doctors, chocolate (ha!), and even Google for the comfort I craved. But while each of those things were helpful in different ways (well, except for Google—Google just made me a crazy person. And the chocolate just gave me a muffin top), the only thing that gave me peace was trusting what the Lord said was true.
So when I’m in the middle of a situation that didn’t turn out the way I hoped, I preach to myself from His Word. Here are a few hope-filled promises …
“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:114.
“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
“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.” Psalm 31:24
“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
Hope in God Alone
I remember an occasion when I had just received some pretty awful news about one of my sons’ health and all I wanted was to call someone and cry. But not one of my friends picked up her phone when I called. I must have called eight different people! I was desperate.
That is when I very clearly felt the Holy Spirit prompt me to pour myself out to the Lord. To run to Him in prayer and let Him satisfy all the hopes that had just been crushed.
And for the first time in my life, I understood what it meant to say like the Psalmist in chapter 39 verse 7, “And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.”
A hope that will never fail me.
A hope that brings joy instead of despair. Peace instead of anxiety. And strength instead of fear.
Because this kind of hope trusts the One who holds it all.
So, sisters, hold your hopes for your sweet boys with open hands. Believe His Word. Trust Him alone. I promise He will do what is the most loving and ultimately good thing for you and your family.
Then we can stand in the room with the crying baby, or the sick child, or the prodigal son, or the C-section operating table and transfer our hopes from our circumstances to the hands of an all-powerful God.
- Hope for the Weary Mom by Brooke McGlothlin and Stacey Thacker
- Fresh Out of Amazing: Opening Your Heart to God’s Unexpected Invitation by Stacey Thacker
- Everyday Hope: Holding Fast to His Promise by Katie Orr