Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Just One HOPE-filled Word

I want a word for the year 2014. A word of instruction, possibly a word to define my year so I read Debbie Macomber's book about choosing such a word earlier this fall but I wondered, would it work for me? Could I choose a word that would set the tone for 2014? Would God help me choose a word?

Then in my typical fashion, I forgot all about taking the time to pick a word until one day I realized that the word HOPE was resonating with me. It kept popping up in my reading, studying and conversation.

hope: a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen; a feeling of trust; a confident expectation of the good things to come; an essential and fundamental element of Christian life; "For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." Romans 8:24, 25

I wondered, was this my word?

For instance, the word hope struck me as I tried to sum up the prophet Daniel's faithfulness for a lecture I was giving. We had been studying the book of Daniel during the fall using the Engage series. Unlike the title of the book suggests, the book isn't all about the man Daniel. It is about God and God's faithfulness to Daniel and the people of God.

However, it wasn't the word Faithfulness that struck me but the word Hope--the hope Daniel's parents, indeed all parents have, that whether we have our children in our care and sphere of influence for 2 or 22 years, we hope that they will stay faithful to God despite the circumstances or trials they face. Daniel's parents had approximately 16 years to instil godly principles and truths in their young son. 

"Discipline (or instruct) your children, for in that there is hope" ~ Proverbs 19:18

So I stopped constantly worrying about how to raise my children and was filled with hope. 

On another occasion, overcome by worry for a situation I couldn't control, I cried out to God in prayer and felt a strong sense of peace. You know, that peace that passes all understanding?  It replaced my fear. And once again, it wasn't the word Peace that struck me but the word Hope--hope that God's sovereignty over the situation would heal peoples' hearts and bring about a restoration.

“Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him,
if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,
then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear.
You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by.
Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning.
You will be secure, because there is hope;" 
~ Job 11:13-18

So I stopped fearing the situation and started to hope.

But I'm a slow learner and still I wasn't sure if my word for this year would be hope until I heard it again, and again, and again.

That cinched it!

During November, I spent some time with Virginia Plan, director of the Triple P Nursery and Primary School in Mukono, Uganda. My daughter and I had visited the school in the fall of 2012 and now it was our turn to host Virginia in Canada. We had great weather of a Canadian kind.  A snowstorm hit our part of Ontario and Virginia not only could see snow falling from the sky but she was able to snap photos of snow hills in parking lots to show her students back in Mukono. We had fun doing some Christmas shopping at the mall (we made time for 2 malls) between Virginia's speaking engagements for Save the Mothers.

As we travelled around southern Ontario, Virginia and I would point out the similarities and the differences between Uganda and Canada.

At first the differences were easy to see--the weather; the road network or lack thereof; traffic jams. Then as Virginia thought about it, she gave voice to her hope for the future of Uganda. There it was again, that word Hope. 

Virginia has hope that maternal health in Uganda will one day be similar to our system in Canada. (You may want to see a play her students produced at Delivery Day for Michelle). She hopes that her country will have infrastructure like the road network we travelled on to get to various speaking engagements. And she hopes that children in Uganda will have a great school system like the one she saw when she spoke to my daughter's Challenge and Change class. 

"but those who hope (or wait in expectancy) in the Lord will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint." ~ Isaiah 40:31

We have hope but hope on its own is never enough. We must place our hope in the hands of our loving God.
"Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? 
Do the skies themselves send down showers?
No, it is you, Lord our God. Therefore our hope is in you, 
for you are the one who does all this." ~ Jeremiah 14:22 

I'm not sure what 2014 will bring but I am hopeful that I will learn from this word Hope. God promises that,

"No one who hopes  in Him will ever be put to shame." ~ Psalm 25:3

Whether you need to put your hope in God to lead your family or your country or to keep fears at bay, I will leave you with the word Hope--hope for a bright, prosperous 2014 and a song taken from Psalm 25:5, "Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all the day long."

Happy New Year!



  1. Thank you Kelly. I needed to read this.

  2. Your journey this year, Barb, has drawn me to HOPE!