The Edifier

West Allen Church of Christ

The Edifier Index

Don't Just Hope . . . Decide

Sam McGowan

I recently read an article from a magazine that seemed to hit home on the subject of hope. This article had an excerpt in it from the book "Chicken Soup for the Soul" which contains the story in which I am drawing the idea for this topic. The length of the excerpt will be shortened because of space.

A man was waiting to pick up a friend at the airport in Portland, Oregon. While waiting he observed a man with two light bags exiting the airplane and stopping in front of him. The man laid down his bags and started motioning to his family, and one by one he began to lovingly greet each one of them.

First, he began with his youngest son, maybe 6 years old. He gave his son a long loving hug and the father expressed how much he had missed him. The son recipricated with the same amount of love. Next was his oldest son, maybe 9 or 10. The father cupped his son's face in his hands and they too hugged a most loving, tender hug. Then came his baby girl. She was so excited to see her Daddy, you could see her squirming in her mother's arms. He took the little girl gently from her mother's arms and said, "Hi, baby girl!" and quickly kissed her face all over. As the man held his little girl, she relaxed and laid her head motionless on his shoulder in pure contentment.

The father then handed his little girl to his oldest son and said, "I've saved the best for last," and proceeded to give his wife very affectionate hugs and kisses. The man expressed how much he loved his wife and the two staired into each others eyes with big smiles, and holding hands all the while.

By the age of their children, the man observing all these happenings knew they were not newlyweds. Astounded by this display of unconditional love the man finally asked in a nervous voice, "Wow ... How long have you two been married?"

"We've known each other 14 years total; married 12 of those" he replied, without taking his gaze from his lovely wife's face. The observer then asked the question, "Well then, how long have you been away?" The man returning from his trip, still beaming with a joyous smile, finally turned and responded by saying, "Two whole days."

The observer was stunned by this answer. By the intensity of the greeting, he had assumed he'd been gone for at least several weeks, if not months. To finally end this encounter and to get back to searching for his friend, the observer said, "I hope my marriage is still that passionate after 12 years ..."

The man returning from his trip suddenly stopped smiling. He looked the observer straight in the eye and with the force that burned right into his soul, he told the observer something that left him a different person. The man told the observer, "Don't hope, friend ... Decide."

What did this man mean when he said this? Was he asking the observer to stop hoping? No, he wanted him to make decisions which would lead to an increase in hope. Decide to do the things that are going to make your hope a reality.

When we read in Hebrews 11:1 it says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." The verse does not give a definition of faith, but a description of what faith does. The word substance means "essence" or "reality." Therefore, faith treats things hoped for as reality. The word evidence means "proof" or "conviction." Faith itself proves that what is unseen is real, such as the believer's rewards at the return of Christ (see 2 Cor. 4:18). In James 2:18 it says, "But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." Works are produced from the faith of an individual. And if anyone is foolish enough to think that faith is all one needs to receive the things they hope for, think again. James points this fact out in verse 20 of the same chapter when he says, "But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?" To truly have hope, means to decide to do the things which will give hope substance.

Have we ever known someone who had their eye on attaining something but never put forth the effort to reach their goal. Remember the words of the apostle Paul in I Tim. 1:12 when he said, "For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." The apostle was preparing for imminent death, but in spite of this he was hopeful. Paul's confidence was not in himself but of Christ's trustworthiness and that God's eternal reward would be given to him and others who lived their lives in real hope. Brethren, let us DECIDE to work through faith in Jesus Christ to produce a sure hope within ourselves that others can plainly see.