God’s gift of hope while we wait for answers.
What do you do when you experience stolen hopes, stolen dreams? Our scripture today is Philippians 3: 13-14. Paul wrote to the church of Philippi, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it, but one thing I do, forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
In these verses, Paul is primarily talking about salvation. He is also talking about the things of this earth and leading people to faith. These are hope-filled verses because he’s talking about something he hasn’t yet taken obtained. He hasn’t yet achieved the things that he wants to do. He hasn’t gotten to where he feels like he should be. And yet, the one thing he does is to forget what is behind. He strains forward. He pursues the path ahead by pressing on towards his goals.
These verses are not just spiritual self help. Paul actually lived them out. Everywhere Paul went, he was abused, stoned, verbally and physically accosted, and he was imprisoned multiple times. Ultimately, he became a martyr for the Christian faith. He’s a man who knew despair intimately. I’m sure at times he struggled with hope. And yet, we see in his writings and the writings of others about him that he did his best to live a life of hope, to press in and press on no matter what he faced.
I think about what I’ve gone through in my life. Two years ago my wife was pregnant with our third child, Gianna. Kathy was 18.5 weeks along when we went to the doctor for an ultrasound and sadly didn’t hear our baby girl, Gianna’s heartbeat. I vividly remember the walk from the doctor’s office to the hospital where Kathy was going to have to give birth our stillborn baby. I remember that ache—the ache of stolen dreams and stolen hope. It hurt. It still hurts even now.
I’m sure there are many of you out there who are hurting. God knows and understands. When Jesus went to the cross, he didn’t just go to the cross for our sins. He also took our pains and sorrows with him.
The scripture talks about the secret things of God. When I get to heaven, I want to ask God a few questions. Why did my mom die prematurely and leave me motherless? Why did I get cancer? Why did Gianna never have a chance to live on earth? These are events from my life that just don’t make sense. However, I have learned to find peace by leaving them in God’s hands…designating their status as “the secret things of God.” One day, I’ll receive answers. Until then, I have found peace in Him.
We all have hopes that are unrealized, and many have stolen dreams. We also all have a choice to make: to either stay in a place of despair or to move to a place of peace through God’s gift of hope. If we stay in a place of despair, it will break us down and destroy us. It will ruin our life. I encourage you, no matter what you’re going through or are struggling with right now, to choose hope. Make a habit out of it. Your life will be better because of it.