Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Hope is our certainty in life

by CAROL SHIRK KNAPP Contributing Writer
| November 30, 2022 1:00 AM

I write a weekly email to family members called Pray Day. It began 11 years ago. My sister-in-law had lost her brother in June — her father in August. And then her elderly mother was diagnosed with cancer. It was too much. I wanted to ease her heartache.

I got the idea we could all pray for one another on a specific day of the week — for whatever was going on. It united us as a family — and brought God in our midst. My sister-in-law chose Tuesday.

One day, not knowing of our weekly prayer, her mother said to her, “For some reason I always feel better on Tuesdays.” She lived another five years.

There is a biblical passage written by the Apostle Paul — who suffered greatly for the cause of Christ — where He calls God “Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” He relates that he and his fellow worker Timothy were “burdened excessively beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life.”

But he continues, saying, “God on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers....”

This past Sunday was the first of four Sundays in Advent — looking to the coming of Jesus into the world. At church the candle of Hope was lit. I was struck by something that was said about hope. In this world we talk about hoping for this or that. Only it's a maybe. I hope it might happen, but I don't really know.

But the Bible talks of hope as a certainty. It is known that it will happen. The message of Christmas is that hope is here.

Today I got news of someone I knew as a young boy thirty years ago. His mother wrote they'd lost him to his struggles with PTSD. He is a veteran of Iraq. Another person I'm in touch with — a woman I met once on the train — wrote me recently, “If you knew my past you might not feel the same about me. I have so much guilt and shame. I don't talk about it ever to anyone. I feel like I can't let any of my feelings out...but at the same time sometimes it feels like it's killing me to keep it in. It's like a lead weight on my soul.”

Hope is not elusive. It is that hope is not recognized. The boy who became the war veteran needed it. My friend from the train needs it. The Apostle Paul needed it. He was a murderer — ferociously going after followers of Jesus who He thought were spreading a false belief — until He found they weren't.

Our family Pray Day has brought us all hope as we pray for one another. Like with Paul, we've had many rescues and been helped again and again through those prayers. I sent the letter out today — and asked that we pray for my friend from the train. We are praying to the God of hope — who sent His Son Jesus to be the hope — for her to find His hope.

Not a maybe — a certainty.

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