By Joni Wood
A long time ago I read a Dear Abby column titled, “Welcome to Holland” by Emily Perl Kingsley. She wrote about the anticipation one experiences prior to the birth of a baby. She gave birth to a special needs child and compared her experience to traveling to Holland instead of Italy.
Holland is a nice place to visit, but pales in comparison to Italy. She concluded that one could dwell on the struggles of not having her hopes and dreams fulfilled, but then she would miss out on the joys and lovely things Holland had to offer. In the same way the hopes and dreams a mother had for her child before birth took on a different reality than what she had expected.
Ms. Kingsley’s experience serves as an example of the vulnerability of hopes and dreams in this life. Is hope something altered by genetics, crushed by betrayal, ended by death—or is it something more?
Hope That Cannot Die
Peter wrote about the Christian’s “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). According to Peter a believer’s hope is anchored by the changeless reality of Christ’s resurrection and will be “revealed at his coming” in eternity (1 Peter 1:13). It cannot be eliminated or altered by the struggles or uncertainties of this life. It is a living hope!
Death, Hope, and Eternity
In ministry I have encouraged and wept with parents who lost a child in death. Their hopes for that child were crushed in a most painful way. The relationship would never be what they had hoped. But the hope of seeing and loving their child again, in the presence of Christ, gave them the strength to carry on and minister to others. They were sustained by “living hope.” They were “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8) as they gazed, by faith, beyond the shattered hopes of this life to their eternal hope in Christ! They held onto something more substantial than either Holland or Italy.
Joni Wood is a reading teacher in Raleigh, North Carolina. She and her husband, Mike, are cofounders of Finding Hope Ministry (www.findinghopesite.com), a ministry of encouragement for troubled marriages. They have two married children and two “grand-puppies.”