I had a doctor’s appointment earlier this month. I was unsure what the outcome was going to be. I found a lump in my armpit that scared me. Should I be worried? Should I be afraid? The uncertainty was exactly that – uncertain. I was feeling all the feels.
I texted a friend and she said, “It’s probably not a big deal, but our hope is not in that.”
Those few words have taken root in my mind. I can’t seem to stop thinking about them. Even after the doctors appointment, the conclusion being that it’s no big deal, I have been evaluating where my hope is, and what exactly that means. What is hope? Why does it matter? How are hope and faith related?
It ended up being a swollen lymph node that has since gone away, but in the days after uncovering it, I prayed for an ingrown hair, it to just disappear, or for it to be exactly what it was – a swollen lymph node. Yes, I prayed for an ingrown hair… Who does that? Me, apparently.
In the process of praying, and in the week between finding the lump and the doctor’s appointment, I was able to take my feelings and fears to God. My mindset shifted from praying for the least scary scenario, to asking God for peace and no fear, no matter the result. I do know that on this side of good news, it’s easy to say that I trusted God’s provision.
Praying for an ingrown hair versus praying for God’s will in the situation – hmmm, let’s see which one makes more sense. In this particular situation, it helped to think of the worst possible scenario. You can imagine where my mind went. And yet, all I could think of was God’s love and care for me. Even the worst possible scenario would not have surprised God. He already had it under control.
John’s words in 1 John 4:16 and 18 brought me peace. “We know and rely on the love God has for us… There is no fear in love; but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
God knows only how to love me. Not the fluffy, only gives me what I want kind of love, but sees the full picture, wants the best for me, in it until the end kind of love. The kind of love that does not punish, but sanctifies. When I fix my eyes on the love of God, even the uncertain situations cause me to trust, not to fear. This is love that I can know and rely upon. This is love I can hope in. This is love I can trust.
Fear stands in opposition to love rooted in the confidence of God’s character. God is good. He is holy. He is love. The love of God does not depend on me. It does not change. It does not punish. This is love worth building my life on. The more I place my hope and trust in God, the less room there is for fear in my mind or my heart.
If my hope is truly in Christ, then everything changes. When hope is in Christ, prayers for comfort turn into prayers for intimacy. When hope is in Christ, dreams of security turn into dreams of wild obedience. If my hope is in Christ, and I know and rely upon the love of God, fear of the uncertain and unknown dissipates. Hope in Christ does not disappoint.