In 1957, my grandfather was in high school shop class, and he built my grandmother a hope chest. They were high school sweethearts and were married in August following their graduation in May. The hope chest, made from cedar, now sits in my parents living room where it is filled with blankets and old photo albums. I like to think that upon receiving it in high school, my grandmother began to collect items to prepare for her wedding and eventual marriage. Traditions holds that a hope chest was often gifted to the bride-to-be for her to begin storing items that were meaningful and valuable. These items could include linens, quilts, silverware, jewelry, family recipes, the eventual wedding dress etc. I like to imagine my grandmother, only 18 years old, thinking about her life post high school, and hoping, or longing, for her wedding day. I imagine her carefully placing her items in the hope chest knowing that one day, these items would be used to help start her new home. I’m not sure exactly what happened when she received the hope chest, but I know it was important to her and my grandfather, because it remains in our family still.
But is hope simply wishful thinking about the future? What about those who longed to be wed and yet marriage passed by them? Or what about those couples who long to have a child but have continually been shattered by infertility. In our world, we can place all our plans, thoughts, wishes, and ideas in a “hope chest” for the future, but ultimately these plans may fail, fall apart, or never even come to fruition. So what is true hope?
Hope is found in Jesus Christ. It is a firm, expectation. Hope is unwavering even in the difficult times. In fact, hope often shines brighter in the dark moments. Hope is the anticipation towards the promises of God. So yes, as a Christian, I can be active in leading a life for God, and I should! But ultimately, my plans and actions are meaningless without God.
Psalms 62: 5-8 states,
“Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
That’s where my hope lies. Not tucked neatly in a chest waiting on the future, but in an active, righteous, strong God- my salvation and my rock.