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.
Hope. We cannot go on living without it. Without hope we sink into a dark pit of despair from which there seems to be no way out. And we give up.
Cancer sometimes threatens our hope. It is not uncommon in our journey with cancer to fall into despair. We wonder if things will ever get better for us. We may begin to fear that they will get worse.
Hope is a gift from God. It is the ability to trust that God does have good things in mind for us, even though we cannot always see what they are.
Sometimes medical personnel say things that threaten our hope for life and health. The doctor may tell us that our prognosis is poor, or that there is nothing they can do about the pain we have. We need to listen carefully to our doctors. But we also need to remember that they are not God. They do not have the final word about the outcome of our cancer.
It is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between denial and hope. But there is a difference. Denial is an inability to take in the reality of the events in our lives. It is an unavoidable response to threatening realities. Denial protects us from acute emotional pain that would otherwise overwhelm us. Denial keeps us from full awareness of the truth until we are ready to face that truth. As we are able, we move out of denial and see reality more clearly and feel our emotions more fully.
Hope is not moving back into denial. Nor is it fleeing into a fantasy world where everything turns out fine or where there are no problems.
Hope is knowing that God is with us in all of life’s circumstances. It is hanging onto God’s hand while facing reality. It is remembering that God’s plans for us are good, even when our circumstances are difficult.
Hope is an orientation toward the future, a future that is in the hands of a loving God.
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.
Questions for Discussion – Session 1
1. What things threaten your hope?
2. When have you felt especially hopeless?
3. What restores your hope?
Questions for Discussion – Session 2
1. How would you define hope?
2. What are you looking forward to in the near and in the distant future?
3. What do you know about God that gives you reason to hope?