2007 was a hard year for me. I started it living in India, suddenly losing my mum in January, then in the middle of the year my visa to continue working in India was denied. So I found myself back in Scotland in an unexpected transition, which was a lot to cope with.
I didn’t want to live by myself, so I got two cats (as they could be together at home, while I was out at work). I named the friendly one, Hope. Partly because I liked the name and partly as a side joke to my emotional struggles, I could say – “I’ve always got hope.”
Reverse culture shock and grieving the loss of my mum, while dealing with a bunch of other things was a tough, lonely and emotional time for me. But having Hope (and Molly) were such a comfort – who didn’t really expect anything from me or judge me when I was having a bad day. In fact, animals are amazing comforters when you’re lying on the sofa crying. They get in your face (literally) and give you all the warm furry love they can.
I’d got Hope from a cat & dog home (rescue centre), she had no fir on the back of her neck, which we think is from being scalded by hot water. Although she was incredibly friendly to me from our initial meeting, for the first two years at home, she was terrified of men. Over time, she realised that actually, guys were just as good at stroking her as girls. When the doorbell would go, she’d run upstairs and hide around the corner. As soon as the front door closed, while the visitor was taking off their coat, she’d run downstairs and race to sit on the couch. Already for them to come and sit down, so she could then sit on them and be patted. It didn’t matter if she’d met them before or not. They had obviously come to see her. Molly, my other cat, would eventually go and greet them, but only to see if they had a treat for her.
I often think of Hope and today more than usual. When I was moving abroad to go back into missions, I had to give them away, which was one of the hardest parts about leaving home.
But I think about her and what I used to say – “I’ve always got hope.” Literally and spiritually. Even if I don’t feel it all the time, it’s the truth.
These verses below remind me of the hope we have, what it gave Abraham:
“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him….” [Romans 4:18a]
The confidence the writer of Roman’s shares with us:
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we not stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character: and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:1-5
“…But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:24b+25
To me, hope is not a word you say while squeezing your face making your eyes shut and crossing your fingers. That’s a hope which you don’t believe will ever happen.
Instead, hope is expectant. It’s the prelude to faith. If you can have hope, then you can have faith and faith can grow to believe that mountains can be moved.
In this crazy time, when we don’t know how long the Coronavirus situation will last, or how our lives will be affected in the long run. Whether that’s the sad loss of a loved one or the economic ramifications of lockdown going on too long…
There is one solid rock I do hope and have faith in – Jesus Christ & Father God. They are the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. I am so thankful that I don’t have to worry about today or tomorrow. I don’t have to live in fear that if I go out to buy food, I’ll touch something or be infected by someone because we got too close passing in the food aisle. Yes, I am taking every precaution to keep myself clean and healthy. But my inner attitude is of faith and hope. I have peace because my security comes from above and not from what is announced on the news.
I thank God every morning for the things I do have, the things I can enjoy (spring growth and sunshine). For the people, I do have around me and the wonders of technology so we can stay in touch with everyone else.
The B2B school, (Be the leader God wants you to be), I’m leading in Switzerland this year isn’t until mid-August. The last B2B’s, in Spain & the Philippines, finished the day before Spain went into lockdown. The one in Mexico was meant to be this week, but that sadly had to be cancelled. But then there is this big gap – no other B2B’s were planned from now until ours and Germany’s in August. I used to wonder why that was the case? What was the reason God had this big gap? Now it’s obvious. Which totally gives me hope that by the start of August – things will be back to a more normal way of life.
So I wait in hope to see what God is going to do in this season and year. Not a passive just sit back and watch. But an active, still planning the school, continuing to look at what God is saying I can do today to be a blessing to those around me. Also, with an excitement that God’s bigger than all of what’s happening around the world. He has it all in the palm of His hand. Yes, He’s sad that people are scared and suffering. But He is everywhere, waiting for people to look to Him for help (even if it’s their last hope). But He is our greatest hope.
So with peace and assurance, I can say – I have hope, faith, love and joy – despite the present circumstances. I just wish on days like today, I could also say I have Hope, literally in the form of a friendly, furry white cat too. But I’ll take God over a cat any day.
I recently wrote a blog post, #6-B2B about my time staffing B2B in Romania. It will give you another perspective on this great young leaders training seminar.
The cat in the photo is indeed Hope the cat. I like to think of her as having a great life with her new family. She would be around 14 now. But I don’t have contact with them so I just ‘hope’ she’s doing well. Molly, my other cat, is with her too. So at least they’re still together.