Our Hope Soars Above Our Fears

We all have the ability to hope. But do we have the ability to persevere in hope during the darkest days of our lives?

The Ability To Hope

We all have the ability to hope. But do we have the ability to persevere in hope during the darkest days of our lives?

No matter how hopeless a situation appears, no matter what the world throws at us or how often we have failed, our ability to hope is always within us.

Like A Whirlpool

Have you ever felt that a situation was hopeless? At the time, did you feel that there was simply no way out, no chance for rescue or relief from the pain and suffering or impending doom? Such feelings seem to feed on themselves, to grow even stronger. We liken it to a downward spiral as if we are caught in a whirlpool.

A Rock and a Hard Place

Perhaps, instead of a whirlpool, you felt you were caught between a rock and a hard place, as Aron Ralston was in 2003. You may have heard the story, or seen the movie made about the incredible incident. It was called “127 Hours”.

Colors of purple and orange grace the sandstone walls of a slot canyon.

The date was April 26th of 2003. Aron was “canyoneering” alone in Utah in Blue John Canyon, a “slot canyon” which is a narrow, winding chasm eroded over many years. He was 8 miles from his vehicle. A cardinal rule in such adventures is to let others know of one’s plans. Then, should you get into trouble, should you not check in at an expected date and time, help will be sent.

Aron had not told a soul of his plans. That oversight would cost him dearly.

As Aron was climbing down into the canyon, an 800-pound boulder became dislodged and his right hand was tragically crushed and pinned against the canyon wall. It would lead to what he would later say was “six days of terror and horror.”

Aaron had little food (two burritos) and little water. He tried for several days to free his trapped arm, all to no avail. Temperatures dropped at night and his strength wained. His hope of rescue was gone. He decided he would have to do the unthinkable: he would need to amputate his arm at the mid-forearm.

Antelope Canyon with light filtering down from above.

I’m not going to relate the details as they are truly ghastly to contemplate. You can read the story in his own words in his autobiography called “A Rock and a Hard Place.” But he did eventually climb out of that canyon, leaving his right hand and part of his arm behind. He also lost 40 pounds and nearly his life.

But Aron didn’t lose his life due to not having lost the most important thing he needed to keep going – hope.  He would later tell his mother that he felt all the prayers that she and others were praying.  In a video called “Desperate Days in Blue John Canyon” (search on YouTube for that title) he would tell Tom Brokaw:

“I prayed about seeking guidance, what I was supposed to do, finding an option that was going to get me out of there.”

Don’t Believe a Lie!

Sometimes troubles come in waves. One thing happens to us, and then another, and another. Read the Book of Job in the Bible. We may fortunately not have the scope of losses that Job had or get trapped in a slot canyon.  But life is full of challenges, and when dark threads are woven into our lives we can get to a point, like Job, in which we also wish we had never been born.  We can believe it is hopeless.

There is a key word in that last sentence. Belief. Hopelessness is not a fact, it is a belief. But such a belief may be based on a lie we are either being told by others or are telling ourselves. How many of us, should we have been Aron struggling against that boulder for six days, would have given up all hope? Yet clearly, we would have been wrong to do so.  We must never believe we are hopeless.

Our Prayer For You

We pray that you might come to know the One in whom we put our hope. We pray that your heart might soar with the eagle each day at the rising and the setting of the sun.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.
~ Ephesians 1:18-19

Photography by John J O’Leary

I Hope You Know What You Are Doing!

Hope is an expression of an outcome desired, but not yet attained…

We hear the word hope in many contexts. We have no doubt heard the following expressed:

  • “Well, I would certainly hope so!”
  • “I hope you know what you are doing!”
  • “He is hopeless!”
  • “That was my last hope.”

Hope is an expression of an outcome desired, but not yet attained. It is used to express a belief, one in which we have a reasonable expectation that it is true. As an example, we hope that our friends will be there for us in a time of need. We believe they will, but we aren’t certain.

In the language of a Christian, hope is one of three aspects of a believer’s character.

“But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” ~ 1st Corinthians 13:13

Hope can also represent the very person of Jesus Christ to us. “He is our hope.” “Put your hope in the Lord.”

One thing is certain.  If you have hope you will act much differently than if you have no hope.

We are all faced with challenges, both large and small. Misplacing our car keys is small. Realizing someone has stolen our car is large. Some challenges are common (I often misplace my car keys). Some are uncommon such as losing your car.

While in San Diego on a photography trip a few years ago, I parked my car and walked a number of blocks to see the galleries of a couple of famous photographers in La Joya. The streets aren’t laid out in a nice north/south grid. There are some winding streets and others at angles. In returning much later to where I had parked, I found it gone. Had it been stolen? It took me a considerable time to realize that I had simply failed to recall the exact location I had parked it. In my time of searching, you can imagine the thoughts that went through my head. Initially, I had hope. However, that started to fade as my fruitless searching dragged on and on. Once I found it I was extremely relieved.

We know that the word of God says to “be anxious for nothing”, but we tend to be anxious for many things. Even as I write this, I think about the potential to be unclear or to use poor grammar. Yet there are truly monumental challenges that await us in life that will require a hope that cannot be easily lost.

What if you get a call from your child letting you know they have been arrested for possession of illegal drugs? What if you get a call from a hospital telling you that your child has been in a traffic accident, and the caller is dodging your key question about how your child is doing?

As believers, whether we are looking for our car keys or our car, how do we remain hopeful and not turn to anxiety and despair? Whether we receive a call from the jail or the hospital, how do we put our hope in Jesus Christ and hold on to the hope we have in Him?

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe…
~ Ephesians 1:18-19

These words of Paul in his letter to the Ephesians tells us that our heart can actually be enlightened – so that we will understand the hope we have in Christ. Paul says that this enlightenment can be obtained through prayer.

My understanding of this is that we can ask God for the ability to hope, through a greater understanding of how trustworthy He is. We have “a living hope” in the person of Jesus Christ, one that is not frail or perishable. Thus through prayer and through reading the word of God, we can strengthen our ability to more clearly understand the basis for our hope in Him.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. ~ 1 Peter 1:3-5

Your thoughts and comments would be appreciated.

Photograph by John J O’Leary

Tribulation Brings About Perseverance

”And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
~ Romans 5:3-5

This scripture verse was written by the Apostle Paul to the young church in Rome.  His words outline a chain of events, starting with tribulation – difficult times in our lives. These are the “dark threads” that God weaves into our lives.

Perseverance is to be our response to such difficulties. To persevere means to persist in anything undertaken; to maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; to continue steadfastly. The key here is “in spite of difficulty”. We don’t give up! It’s obviously easy to persevere when times are full of sunshine, warmth and laughter. But we grow by persevering when the fiery trials come. It builds “proven character” which leads to “hope”.

Our prayer is that you face tribulation head on, persevere and look forward to the blessings that will come when you do.  Turn to Jesus Christ, the Risen Savior, for help when you feel you no longer have the strength to continue.  He is an ever-present source of strength to those who believe in Him.

Photograph by John J O’Leary