This week’s blog is from a meditation I shared on Sunday about Hope.  I hope it will encourage those who read it!

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19

Lately I’ve been painting butterflies.  They are amazing miracles of flight, of beauty, of restoration. 
Did you know a butterfly can’t see its wings?  And yet it flies anyway, soaring into the skies.
Butterflies speak to me of hope. 

Although I’ve written about hope for many years, I’ve found myself pondering its meaning in recent weeks. 

I thought of the word optimism, and I don’t think that is accurate.  It is good to be optimistic, to look at life with a positive outlook.  But the truth is, no matter how optimistic we are, life happens, sometimes good, sometimes bad.

I do believe that when we approach all we do with a positive attitude, and a cheery outlook, it can affect how we see the world.  It can affect our mental health.
I love the story of Winnie the Pooh.  He was so amicable, easy going, and kind to his friends.  If I was to pick a character from his story, I’d want to be Pooh Bear.

Tigger, on the other hand, is a bit too much for me… far too bouncy, cheerful and in your face.  Quite exhausting, although I admire him from afar.  If only I had his energy! 

Quite often, I’m with Eeyore.  There is a great cartoon that has gone around on social media, depicting Eeyore as clinically depressed.  He’s just a melancholy donkey.  But he is part of the story and his friends include him and love him.  He’s a sensitive guy!

The fact is, I really don’t want to be Eeyore.  I want to be optimistic.  The truth is many of us can be weighed down by circumstances; life can be challenging when we are ill, or grieving, or sad. 

When I need hope I often go to Scripture, which is filled with Hope.  At the hospital I give out Hope magazines…. a wonderful publication put out by the Gideons. It is filled with beautiful pictures and the Psalms, and I love to hand it out.  I always leave some in the chapel too.  It is a wonderful resource to use to encourage others.  The poetic words of the Psalms often filled with hope – and comfort. 

Psalm 46:1  God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 

Psalm 62: 5 -6 Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.  Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

From Psalm 71:   5  For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth. 6  From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mothers womb. I will ever praise you. 14  As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.

I love the thought that as I visit people in hospital, one of my tasks is to give people hope.  Hope in the midst of despair, hope while they wait, hope for things to get better.  Hope even in the midst of grief.

It is easy to become overwhelmed with sad stories, our own heartbreak, with grief and loss and illness.  After experiencing a lot of trouble, we can become pessimistic… what else is coming? 

I love this verse from Hebrews which says:  Hope is like an anchor.  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  This is different than optimism which seems hinged on everything going well. 

Hope gives us an anchor, a firm and secure place to hang onto in the midst of life, no matter what our circumstances are.  In the midst of a raging storm, or a peaceful calm sea, the anchor remains.  Faith, to me is that anchor, my faith in God who stays by my side, and is present always…
Those wonderful words from Psalm 23 say it so well… Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,a
I will fear no evil, for You are with me;
In all of life… even in death, we don’t have to fear because God is with us.  This is the hope we can hang on to.

One of my favourite verses comes from Psalm 62, where it says: Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. 

Visualize with me a picture of a huge rock, a fortress where we can run to and be safe.  My friend puts it so well… we might be shaking, but we can stand on a rock that doesn’t move.  It is solid… this brings us peace and rest.

There is another beautiful verse that says “Though our bodies are dying our spirits are being renewed EVERY DAY!  2 Cor 4:16

Even though we don’t like to think that our bodies are dying, we all know it is going to happen… to all of us.  As we get older the aches and pains remind us we are not young anymore.  Our conversations start to go to organ recitals, and it isn’t very musical. 

But there is this incredible hope – that our spirits… our very souls are being renewed… day by day!

Just like the butterfly… who as a caterpillar curls up and could be left for dead… emerges into the most beautiful of creatures… free and light, soaring with hope.  
This is hope we can hang on to.  A hope that is as secure as that anchor we read about in Hebrews.

This is a hope that is solid like the rock that won’t be shaken.  A hope that brings freedom and joy. 

How do we live in hope?  Or bring hope to others?  It might be an encouraging smile, or a listening ear.  It might be a gentle touch or a short prayer.  It might be a quilt or prayer shawl, given to someone who needs hope, and these practical gifts are reminders of the fact that someone cares, God cares.

It might be a friendly exchange in an elevator or hallway and asking someone how their day is going.  We can all do that!  Hope can be delivered with a phone call to a shut-in, or a word of encouragement to a busy parent.  It can be a plate of cookies or a bowl of soup to someone who needs nourishment.  It can even be a smile to a homeless person, who just is longing to be seen. 

Hope is available for all of us.  When we are filled with hope, it doesn’t mean we are guaranteed an easy life.  It is those challenging lessons that often shape us, where we come to know how much we need God’s help. 

Rather, Hope is trust in God who is with us through all of our lives.  Hope is the knowledge of eternity, a time where we will have new bodies and our mourning will be over.  Hope is knowing that with God in our hearts, all is well, no matter what our circumstances.

There is hope for each one of us…a gift from our Creator, a gift of forever.  I love the saying Hope Springs Eternal.  Hope is eternal.  It is solid. 

We can be filled with hope.  How?  By reminding ourselves of God’s promises.  By singing about them, and reading words of hope from sacred and inspirational readings.  

This gives us fuel for our days, energy, if you will, filling us with hope to live joyous expectant lives. 

We can trust God knows the whole picture and He is faithful Phillipians 1:6 says, : “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  

There is hope in that, a confidence that God will supply all we need.
 May you be filled with Hope today!

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