July 2021

For the last several weeks, our scripture has been encouraging us toward a deepening trust in God.  Personally, after the past eighteen or nineteen months, this has been not only timely, but necessary. I did a great deal of soul searching as I delved into the areas of trust highlighted in our scripture: trust in God’s control, trust in God’s presence during storms, and trust in God’s healing.  It was a wonderful, enlightening process for me (I hope it was for you all as well).  During my study, I realized that Trust has a sibling—perhaps even a twin— called Hope.  

If trust is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something, hope is an optimistic state of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes of events or life circumstances.  Deepening trust deepens hope, and hope realized, deepens trust. You see? Siblings! 

A trivial example of this is that I trust that my husband, Steve, has strong hands, therefore, I hope that he will open my vitamin water for me.  A more profound example of the relationship would be my prayer that my dad would come to know God personally.  I prayed this prayer for twenty years, and God finally answered.  For twenty years I hoped, and my trust in the Lord’s provision increased when the answer finally came.  The growth came not only from the answer, but in the realization that God’s timing is not my own.  There is a freedom in trusting and in hoping when we are talking about our relationship with the Divine Creator.  There is comfort.  There is peace.

However, when our hope is lagging, which it does from time to time, when fear grows over life circumstances like it did in 2020, when we lose sight of our blessings and listen to voices that tell us we are losing freedom or that we are under attack, our ability to trust suffers and our hope wanes. This is when we need friends who will remind us.  Friends like Hopeful from John Bunyan’s wonderful book, The Pilgrims Progress.

The book is an allegory of the Christian life which follows “Christian” as he leaves the City of Destruction to journey to the Celestial City.  Christian is the archetype of a person struggling to lead a life of faith.  As Christian nears the end of his symbolic journey, he must cross a great, raging river.  The Celestial City is in sight.  He is almost there.  Christian is terrified to cross the river but with the encouragement of his friend, Hopeful, he enters the water.  Christian then cries out, “I sink in deep Waters; the Billows go over my head, all His waves go over me.”  Hopeful replies with beautiful, encouraging, grace-filled words, “Be of good cheer, my Brother, I feel the bottom, and it is good…”  With Hopeful by his side, Christian is able to cross the river safely. 

Trust and Hope, two intertwined concepts that gird our life of faith.  Trust and Hope, two things with which we can encourage one another.  Let us be to one another as Hopeful was to Christian when he was overwhelmed and terrified.  Let us grow our trust and hope together as the family of God.  What do you say?  “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…”

1 Thessalonians 5:11