By Tommy Rush

Sometimes it’s hard to explain hope to a person who is struggling through a time of crisis. I often share with people that hope is not pretending that troubles don’t exist, but knowing in our heart that they will not last forever. Hope is an essential ingredient to make it through life!

There’s a good illustration of hope about a little boy who was standing at the foot of the escalator in a big department store, intently watching the handrail. He never took his eyes off the handrail as the escalator kept going around and around. A store employee saw him and finally asked him if he was lost. The little boy replied, “Nope, I’m just waiting for my chewing gum to come back around.” If you’re going through a tough time and feel like things are hopeless, be like the little boy waiting for his gum to come back. Stand firm, keep focused, be patient and trust God!

I’ve seen some great examples of hope in my years of ministry, but few greater than the example I’ve observed this past year. A dear friend and member of our church family has been an amazing example of hope to all who know him. Kasey Crittenden has been walking through the valley of cancer this year. It has not been his first experience. He spent much of his childhood and teenage years in St. Jude Hospital in Memphis. This past year cancer returned and his doctors knew the size of the tumor would require an aggressive and difficult plan of treatment.

Even through the many concerns of COVID and the difficult effects of chemotherapy, our church family has observed Kasey’s faithfulness to the Lord. He would often declare, “the Lord is my hope and strength.” Each week we have witnessed a young man worship through his pain. His love for the Lord and desire to serve has encouraged our entire church family. One of Kasey’s greatest joys in life is walking the hills of Honduras each summer and sharing with people the love of Jesus. When the plans for this summer’s trip began to develop, Kasey was the first to sign up. Out of concern for his health, friends and family suggested that he not go this year. Kasey’s reply was “My hope is in Jesus. Every moment of every day is a gift and my life is in God’s hands.”

This past Wednesday, Kasey had a follow-up visit with his doctor after the long months of treatment. His doctor was elated to share with Kasey that the cancer that had previously covered a large portion of his right side was completely clear. The tumor in his lung that originally was larger than a man’s fist was now the size of a small pea.

I realize that many people have different outcomes and we cannot explain or fully understand why God works in different ways. What we do know is that hope always looks forward and refuses to give up. Without hope life is impossible, but with hope nothing is impossible! Hope keeps opening doors where despair closes them. Hope regards problems, small and large, as opportunities. It looks for what can be done instead of grumbling about what cannot be done. Hope draws strength from a deep trust in God.

I’m grateful tonight for a young man who demonstrates I Peter 3:15 on a daily basis. “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your heart, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the HOPE that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”