(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 17 of Never Give Up! by . I've chosen to selectively address the points which impacted me the most. Please know that what we all learn from a study is usually different. Therefore we ask, if you feel like it please share in the comments section what you got out of the reading as well. We're sure you'll lift some one's spirit.)
Joyce begins Chapter 17, The Power of Hope with the story of Pat and her husband Gary. This family found faith and hope in the midst of a that left them stranded in the mountains in the cold of winter. Pat's back was broken and Gary set out to seek help for his family. This family endured six days in the freezing cold, even during a blizzard. They were forced to eat snow in order to survive. They read their Bible and the Lord gave them the strength they needed to endure. Unbeknownst to them, their emergency transponder was sending a signal which eventually alerted a commercial jet and led to their rescue. Tragically, Gary did not survive the ordeal and died of hypothermia and several of the boys had to have partial foot/leg amputations. The miracle is that they had the ability to hope, which gave them the strength while they waited to be rescued. Eventually Pat was also able to begin again and do God's work with a man that she remarried ten years later.
I have to admit, I've had some times where it was difficult to find hope but none quite like this. In relation to my journey as an autism mom, I have struggled to hold on to hope in a different way. Joyce reminds us that hope is such a powerful force that the enemy will do whatever he can to steal it. In my case, he tries to get my mind off what I need to be doing and on to myself, what I've suffered in the past and seeing my son the way the "world" sees him instead of how God sees him. Joyce tells us on page 229 that the opposite of hope is dread. Hope tells us we have a bright future, dread tells us the future is bleak. When I can focus in and see my son the way God sees him, I am amazed at how wonderful and resilient he is. I am filled with hope about the potential God has placed in him. When I let the devil get to me it is usually during a moment of weakness or exhaustion. Joyce identifies how he does this on page 230, stating "The devil puts thoughts in our minds to make us feel sorry for ourselves and resent the people who have what we are convinced we can never have." There have been too many times in the past that I have fallen for this one hook, line and sinker. One thing that has helped me is to identify that this is nothing more than jealousy and to ask God for help. I was watching Joyce Meyer's television program "Enjoying Everyday Life" and something she said put this in perspective for me very quickly. She said "Since it is God who puts the gifts in people, actually to be jealous of what other people have is to find fault with God." (Joyce Meyer, Enjoying Everyday Life, 1/19/10 broadcast, "Gifts and Fruit" Part 2). Ouch. She also elaborates on the self-pity part of this and why it is so dangerous on page 230, stating: "I finally realized self-pity is idolatry because it is self-focus carried to an extreme and it rejects God's love and ability to change things for us." This is the truth and the last thing I want to do in a time of trial is tie God's hands and hinder His ability to work in my life. This is why it is so crucial to hold on to hope.
Hope and faith work together. They allow us to be positive and see our blessings and hold on until we see God's promises come to pass. On page 232, Joyce states that "When things don't work out the way we wish they would, we can either be sad about what we did not get, or we can be creative and look to see what we can do about what's left". It is easy to stay hope-filled and positive when things are going well. We learn to put God's power at work in our lives when we relentlessly and consistently hope in the face of our difficulties. Joyce also reminds us in her closing thoughts on page 233, "Sadness, disappointment, and despair have to flee in the presence of hope. As long as you have hope, you will not be able to give up." That means the devil will have to flee and God will be able to do the amazing works that He has planned for us.
I thank you for the gift of hope. Let us remember that You are the one that has every last detail of our lives already worked out for our benefit. It is because of who You are and how You love us that we can be hopeful in any and all situations. Let your words take root deep in our hearts and resurface when we need reminders of all that we have to hope for. We ask this in your name, Jesus. Amen.
We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the
We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:13
Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.