Hope & Dying – New Research.
When you’re dying, where can you find hope? Is there any hope? Today in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, new scientific evidence revealed the importance of hope in the face of death.
Hospice. Palliative Care. Dying. Hope.
A major aim of the research project was to “investigate the meaning of hope to patients receiving hospice and palliative care and to examine the themes that foster hope in those patients.” It’s not surprising that the study concluded that hope is often linked to something in the future and is a significant factor especially for patients dealing with a terminal illness. It also revealed that the hope of people with religious faith is more helpful to them and their families than other sources of hope.
In an Ocean of Hopelessness
Let’s be realistic. With all we face in today’s world, it’s hard to have any hope. We live in an ocean of hopelessness. Everywhere we look we see gloom and doom. Single words like Syria, Iran, Israel, ISIS, beheadings, Ebola, poverty, militants, global-warming, and senseless shootings, just to mention a few, produce mental pictures of hopelessness. But, hope is possible.
Hope is not hope-so.
Before you are able to find hope, you must what know it is. The kind of hope that will help you when you’re dying or struggling with any traumatic situation is not the wishful thinking kind. The popular word hope would best be called hope-so, not real hope. It’s the kind of hope that is based on unstable emotions and wishful desires. It’s about as dependable as the weather. “I hope it rains this week.” We say, “I hope my grandson’s team wins the game,” or “I hope I get a raise.” That kind of hope-so hope is no help for you or your loved ones when you’re trying to overcome crises. What you need is a secure, dependable, helpful kind of hope.
What is Helpful-hope?
The kind of hope that helps, works, gives security, stands firm in the face of adversity is the kind you read about in the lives of people in the Bible. It’s not a hope-so craving but a know-so relationship.
An intimately-close relationship produces solid hope
A helpful-hope is built on a reliable, tested, solid relationship that is dependable. Over many years I’ve enjoyed an intimately-close relationship with my wife, Phyllis. I know I can depend on her. I know no one on earth I would put my hope in more than my Phyllis. As far as human-hope goes, she’s the best. I know this because she cares for me more than anyone else on the planet. I know she will be by my side no matter what. When trouble comes, I have hope in her because of the kind of relationship we have and because of her proven character. She’s worthy of my hope.
Supernatural-hope is Relational
Our heavenly Father is our spiritual-hope, our supernatural-hope, our eternal-hope. When we have an intimately-close relationship with him, we know he is all-loving, all-caring, all-power and all-present. Our hope is secure. It’s based on our relationship and on his proven character. He’s dependable. When facing death, the Apostle Paul gave this personal testimony about the source of his hope, “There is no hope in mankind, circumstances, or in any other thing. We have our hope set on the living God.” (1 Tim 4:10).
Buck Buckley Had Supernatual-hope.
A few years ago one of my best Christian buddies and prayer partners, Buck Buckley, asked me to meet him for breakfast. After our normal kidding and ribbing each other, he paused, took a big breath, and told me he had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He said it was the kind that would take his life in just a few months. You might think he would be angry, depressed, fearful or at least hopeless. Not at all.
His Peaceful Hope
With almost the same breath that he had just told me a joke and announced his diagnosis, Buck calmly told me about his joy in being able to go home to see Jesus and be with his beloved wife, Jean. The source of his peaceful hope was not some hope-so. It was based on his close relationship with Jesus. In health or in sickness, life or death, Buck’s hope was the same.
Before he died, he smiled and whispered
Just before Buck stepped into eternity from his hospital bed, he motioned for me to lean down. He was too weak to speak. He held my hand, smiled and whispered into my ear, “Everything is fine. I’m going home.” Within minutes he was gone.
Hope is not just important. It’s essential when you’re dying or facing any serious crisis. What gives you hope? Where will you find your hope today?