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Hearing God SpeakFalse Hope, Well Duh!
By Anita Howell

"False hope! Well duh! Either you hope in God or you have no hope! Thereís no false hope!"

That was our ten-year-old daughterís response when a doctor wanted to hold off a few months on doing an MRI on her new baby brother. The doctor had wanted to avoid giving us false hope. I wish I could convey the neck popping, eye-rolling tone in our daughterís response. Her confidence was contagious.

Emily accepts and finds comfort in what God says. And, through her example, she is teaching me to rely on His word more, and my own understanding less. I tend to place all of my focus on studying pediatric strokes and therapy while she tends to keep her focus on Him. She doesnít need to understand all of the facts of her brotherís stroke. She just needs to understand who her God is; and that, she understands quite clearly.

I suspect that God was the first parent to say, "Because I said so!" But the accountant in me still struggles to reconcile the doctorsí reports and developmental delays, with Jeremiah 29:11:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." (NIV)

At one point, during that first tough year with Ryan, I remember having this feeling of hope. I was so clueless that it confused me. Although Ryan was slowly but steadily improving, we hadnít gotten some miraculous medical report of a healing and there didnít seem to be an end in sight to the financial strain. So why did I have this feeling that something good was just around the corner? Instead of just accepting this wonderful gift of hope I had to analyze, define, and justify.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5 NIV)

As I watch Emily and other children, I see what it means to have the faith of a child. I know what youíre thinking Ė she is a child; she hasnít experienced real heartbreak. The year prior to her brotherís birth we had gone through a miscarriage that broke her heart. She had prayed for a brother or sister for years and was very excited about the new baby. But, in spite of her heartbreak, she held onto her hope and sincerely believed that God would still give her a brother or sister to love here on earth.

As our baby boy slowly recovers from his stroke, Iíve had an opportunity to come to know God as our Great Physician. As we struggle to make ends meet, I have an opportunity to know HIM as our Provider. As I cry on the difficult days, I have an opportunity to know HIM as my Comforter. On the days when it seems like there is no hope, I have an opportunity to know HIM as my Hope. And the more I come to know HIM as the Great Physician, Provider, and Comforter, the easier it is to let go and truly hope in HIM.

Thereís so much more to learn about placing our hope in HIM. But it doesnít come from understanding, defining, or analyzing hope, itself; but from learning who HE is and why we can safely place our hope in HIM.
Anita Howell and her husband, Wes, have a daughter, Emily, 11 years old, and a son, Ryan, 17 months old. When Ryan was three days old, they discovered that he had suffered a stroke just prior to his birth. During the tough days after his birth, Anita began to write down HIS wonderful words of encouragement. Since then she has been led to write devotionals for other parents who are going through health issues with their children. You can write to Anita care of the Letters page of this magazine.