HOPE. Four letters in an order that I could not relate to. Not after my husband Lee died. Not after I became an only parent of our two young children. How could I have hope? My partner in life, parenting, adventuring, and joy for over two decades had suddenly died. What could I hope for?!
My mother-in-law sent me those specific four letters—HOPE—on a wrought iron plaque. Too heavy. Too much to expect. So far from the depths of grief that weighed me down. Physically, logistically, and emotionally—I could not face a proclamation of hope, the issues that took priority over hope, or the grief that drowned my hope. HOPE the concept seemed impossible. But HOPE the plaque was an elegant piece with four serif caps resting on artistic swirls.
I looked at the plaque and remembered Jeremiah 29:11, “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.” The next two verses describe a strategy I had already used in my grief: “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart,” Jeremiah 29:12-13. Hope was more than I could muster on my own, but I decided that God could be trusted to have hope for me.
Although my resources felt depleted by grief, I knew God’s love and power could give me hope. So I hung that plaque on my kitchen wall, across from my morning Bible-reading spot. God’s hope and emotional healing did not come quickly, nor did my grief disappear. Those four letters stared me in the face every day, reminding me to trust God for hope. And I did: slowly, verse by verse, and prayer by prayer. I cracked my Bible daily, completed my study lessons, and prayed to the source of my comfort and hope. And God answered—in His way and in His timing.
After experiencing God’s hope and comfort through grief, I now have the privilege of praying for others. When I pray for people in need of hope, I again go to God’s Word for insight:
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
Not only does God give hope, but He provides comfort, joy, and peace beyond what we can imagine. God did that for me all the way through my grief and sorrow. (For the full story, see my memoir and sequel.) I have experienced these gifts from God, and I challenge you to ask God for them, too. May the God of hope give you overflowing hope, joy, and peace as you trust in Him through your pain.