Shared by Eva Rinaldi under Creative Commons license found at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en
Romans 8: 24-25
My teenage heartthrob has passed away. Olivia Newton-John was always my favorite dream girl. As a teenager, I even wrote a song for a song contest that was expressly in her style, in the hope I would win and then I would meet her to deliver my song.
Olivia (I can only call her by her first name!) had a wonderful singing and acting career, but she will be long remembered by how she carried herself through three decades of living with cancer. People who knew her point to her bright spirit and her optimism, no matter how she felt.
A striking example of her optimism was when she needed radiation treatment for a cancer-induced pelvic fracture in 2019. Earlier in the decade, she had donated to and promoted the Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre in Melbourne, Australia. Now she was entering that center as a patient herself. People Magazine quotes her as saying, "I was like, 'Wow, I'm in my hospital that I'd dreamt of building for people to have rest and peace,' and there I was getting the best care. It was quite magical." I don't know if I personally would have called it "magical," but Olivia possessed and expressed that kind of optimism.
As valuable as a sunny, optimistic attitude can be, we Christians possess a similar but even more powerful tool to deploy as part of our 7-day practical faith: Hope.
Christian hope is not founded on circumstance, but on our belief in God. It could be related to our confidence in spiritual salvation. It could be related to our confidence that God will help us in our circumstance and our weaknesses. We could hope in confidence that God has a plan, and while it is not revealed yet, it will be brilliant and complete when revealed.
Notice the word "confidence" throughout the prior paragraph. This is a vital part of hope. Paul alluded to it in Romans 8: 24-25:
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.
We can wait patiently (with endurance, per other translations) because we are confident. We do not see the outcome yet, but possessing the outcome is not hope. We hope patiently, confidently for something that is not yet seen.
One reason we can hope with confidence is that God has delivered in the past. Each of us has an individual past that we can review, and in reflecting, we discover how God has been present and active in our lives. God inspires hope with confidence because of how God has impacted us as individuals.
God has also delivered for us collectively. In my new book, The Next Thing: A Christian Model for Dealing with Crisis in Personal Life, I describe why God is trustworthy in a crisis:
In the Old Testament, God made big promises and kept them...God promised Abraham that all nations on earth would be blessed through Abraham's family - even though Abraham and Sarah were childless. Abraham had faith enough to trust God, and God delivered not only children numerous as the stars, but a Savior from the lineage of Abraham.
Later, God promised Abraham's descendants that, through Moses, he would lead them to the Promised Land. Though the journey had many twists and turns...God delivered.
And I go on to cite other examples in the New Testament, especially through Jesus' miraculous healing miracles. These are examples of crises (infertility, enslavement, medical issues) where God justified a confident hope in Himself. (By the way, I also describe at length in The Next Thing why God is trustworthy even when the crisis outcome is not what we want. You'll find The Next Thing in book and video forms at CecilTaylorMinistries.com, with the book also available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers).
Optimism is a precious tool that helps us get through the day. But as we put our professed faith into practice in life's situations, we use the invaluable tool of hope, waiting with confidence for God's plans to be revealed, God's promises to be fulfilled, and God's presence to be felt through the Holy Spirit, the divine living within us and alongside us. Because we hope in confidence, we can be patient and faithful while we wait.