Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Three Things: Hope

What is "hope"? gives the following information:
  1. the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best: to give up hope.
  2. a particular instance of this feeling: the hope of winning.
  3. grounds for this feeling in a particular instance: There is little or no hope of his recovery.
  4. a person or thing in which expectations are centered: The medicine was her last hope.
  5. something that is hoped for: Her forgiveness is my constant hope.
I think that hope is a feeling which is most of us can relate to throughout our lives and throughout various experiences.  It changes with the experiences themselves.  At the same time, for me, I believe that hope can be tied in with faith.  In this second Blog Month assignment for Compassion International, I would like to share with you some thoughts on this word: hope.

Hopes and Dreams

Growing up in a middle class North American home, I was a fairly typical child.  I had friends to play with despite some experiences along the way which I shared last week.  I wanted to grow up, have typical high school and university experiences, meet the man of my dreams, have the job of my dreams {even though I was fairly certain there isn't a high demand for archaeologists}, and raise a family with 3 or 4 children.  I hoped for these things.  These were all desires I planned out years before they were possible.  Because, in my childish mind, I thought they were possible.  I didn't realize that the things you hope for as a child didn't necessarily come to fruition in adulthood.

There are millions of children around the world whose hopes and dreams are nothing as elaborate as what mine were as a child.  Imagine your hopes and dreams being that you might find enough water for your family or enough food to put in front of the starving people in your home.  Imagine that home being nothing like what my childhood drawings of what my future home would be one day.

Hopes Dashed

There comes a point in one's life when the realization hits you that some of those hopes and dreams you once clung to were nothing more than childish fantasies.  I didn't wind up with lots of boyfriends.  None really - until I met my husband who I've now been married to for 13 years.  I moved to a different country {although it was back to the country of my birth}, married this man, and we set out to start our family.  It would have been amazing to have three or four children.  We do, really.  But we only have one here with us now.  We had a stillborn son in August 2001 followed by an early miscarriage in 2003.  2004 brought the birth of our daughter, Moira {age 9 now}, and 2006 brought the birth of our daughter, Peyton, who passed away this past May just 11 days shy of her 7th birthday.  To say our hopes for a larger family were dashed is an understatement.  In the process of all of this, my health suffered a few close calls.  To say our life is "normal" would just be inconceivable for me to grasp.  It's not.  It is about as far from "normal" as the lives of anyone I personally know are concerned.

But what if I were living in an impoverished country?  I am 40 years old now.  There's a great possibility that I might be an "old lady" in another culture.  It's quite possible that in another society, I may not have made it this far.  My daughter who I was blessed to have for over 6 years - she probably wouldn't have made it out of infancy in an underdeveloped nation.  Forget all that - after that stillbirth I had in 2001, I would have surely died.  In fact, I likely would have died before he had a chance to be stillborn.

Hope and Faith

I have learned over the past few years that my hope is intricately tied to my faith.  The more I grew in my faith, the more hope I developed in the situations we were encountering in our life, particularly with Peyton.  Even when we knew that our road was going to lead to an early death for her {we never expected she would live as much as 10 years}, we were able to find hope in the promises of God.  The Bible is filled with promises.  The closer I came to Christ, the more I learned that God's promises are available to us all and that there is hope to be found even in the darkest situation.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. {Romans 12:12, NLT}
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, NLT}
"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, NLT}
There are countless verses which tell us that there is hope in trusting in the Lord.  These are promises which I cling to, especially in times where my own hopes have been dashed.  What I have learned is that whenever my hopes have failed to materialize - or didn't turn out as I had planned - God has something better in store.

So many children are clinging to the hope that someone, somewhere in the world will one day sponsor them.  These sponsorships provide education, health services, and support for the families which I, in my developed world frame of reference, cannot even begin to fathom.  We were able to send a gift of money to our sponsor child in Rwanda this past May.  It was a small amount, less than we'd hoped to be able to send.  I received a letter from him recently which stated that they used that money to buy a pig for the family.  A pig.  In the material culture I come from, it was so profound and humbling to me that this is what he did with his "birthday money".  Hope.  Your contribution provides hope for these children and their families.

Won't you consider sponsoring a child yourself?  You can be the change in the life of a child and, by extension, their family.  During Blog Month, Compassion International hopes to see 3,160 children placed with sponsors.  Please help to make a difference.  View the list of waiting children HERE.  Thank you!

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