I surveyed the handful of chocolate chips in my hand. I was about to put them in Caleb’s pancakes. Caleb loves chocolate. Loves it. For him, pancakes with chocolate chips are the bomb! I enjoy chocolate, too. A lot. However, because sugar is a key ingredient in the chocolate chips I held in my hand, I knew that they were off limits to me this year. Still, I could smell them…
The distinctive chocolate aroma wafted gently into my nostrils. I inhaled the scent and allowed my odor receptors to absorb the sweet, familiar, friendly cocoa smell. Scientists have proven that when the scent of chocolate enters the nose, these odor receptors play a significant role in the satisfying perception that results when we savor a bite of chocolate. Those chocolate chips were captivating.
It’s the first time since I embarked on my no-sugar journey for 2017, that I felt tempted to take a bite of chocolate. However, I knew that even one chocolate chip had the power to arrest my no-sugar commitment.
I positioned the collection of chocolate chips upon the formative pancakes that I had just poured on the griddle for my son, and kept my no-sugar resolve.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with eating and enjoying chocolate. My son loves it and so do many of my family and friends. In addition, the scientific world has demonstrated that the consumption of chocolate causes chemical reactions in our bodies that affect our mind and body in positive ways. We may feel happier and our mind has the potential to become more alert. Even the smell of chocolate, as I shared, can improve our mood.
However, for me, I found that chocolate and other sugary delights had become something more – a place to go when I was stressed, worried, fearful, or just desired a momentary escape from my present set of circumstances.
My God wanted me to come to Him in those situations. I knew it. He asked me to do something radical for Him and trust Him as I did. There was no promise or guarantee that the journey would be easy. For my sanctification to deepen, often times a trial occurs. Trials often come at the most unexpected times.
However, I chose this one – I invited it to happen. I volunteered for my no sugar journey this year.
I desired something more, something deeper from my God that I honestly believed could only come through the decision to release my hope in chocolate/sugar over to Him and seek Him for my hope.
Thus, my decision to study hope in the Scriptures this year.
I have recently finished my hope study in the Old Testament. Before I embark on the hope truths found in the New Testament, I wanted to reflect upon what I have learned about hope so far.
First, much of the word usage of hope is uttered during a time of great difficulty in the Old Testament. Naomi, Job, the Psalmists, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Micah and Zechariah had all reached a point of no return. Naomi had lost her husband, her sons, and her position in life. She saw no future for herself – all she could do was return to the home of her birth. Job, too, had suffered incomprehensible loss. Surrounded by the unhelpful, judgmental presence of his friends, Job’s hope was tied only to God. He had nothing else. David and the other Psalmists cried out to God in despair and need. Theirs’ was a waiting hope. They found hope answered their dispirited cries. Solomon realized and declared there was no meaning and no hope found in the temporal comforts of the world. The physical strength, mental capacity and vigor, beauty, and other self-reliant pursuits served no value to the Lord. The Lord delights in a heart that seeks Him wholeheartedly in reverent fear and with patient resolve. The prophets of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Micah, and Zechariah declared God as Israel’s hope – the people’s hope. However, the nation of Israel wasn’t particularly interested in hoping in God for much of anything – denouncing the prophets’ words. These men suffered ridicule, rejection, and loss of reputation as they proclaimed the truth of God regardless of the consequences. They understood that vain confidence would lead to the people’s despair – their listeners did not.
Yet, for each and every person of the Old Testament, whose hope story was told, they chose to hope and to wait upon their God. They voluntarily bound themselves to Him. They determined to look expectantly to their God as their present and future hope. They sought the Lord as their life line of strength, help, hope, and restoration.
After studying the word hope in the Old Testament, the Hebrew transliterated word tiqvah was used in 34 of the 78 verses I studied this year. Tiqvah means a cord of hope, an expectation. I have come to love this word picture. I envision myself at one end of the cord of hope and my God at the other end – holding me fast, anchored sure. I imagine many of the Old Testament writers had a similar view. They didn’t seek a cord of escape in the temporal – like chocolate. Their cord of hope fastened them to their God and His purposes, the coming Messiah, and His Kingdom to come!
This was the focus of the Old Testament hope-sharers!
Christ was coming! True hope was at hand – in their hands – as they grasped their cords of Hope!
The same is true for us.
True hope is in our hands as we hold onto our cords of hope!
No one knew then exactly what was going to happen. Yes, prophecies had been told and all were about to be realized in Jesus Christ. However, they honestly had no idea what was to come – all they knew was that they were holding the cord of hope and trusting in their God for their present and future. And that would be enough. They found in the cord of hope an image of security and strength.
I think that is the biggest ‘a-ha’ I have from my hope study so far. I have no control over anything that happens in my life. Life is uncertain. However, I do have control over where I will place my hope and trust. I choose to take hold of the cord of hope – not chocolate (although it smells and tastes divine), not my abilities, not my performance, not my rights, not my vain confidence, and not my desires for this, that, or the other thing. And when difficulties, sorrows, challenges, setbacks, and even joys and triumphs come, I know that as I endure them, my God is tied to them as well, with me. Thus, I seek and depend upon what is most sure, most consistent, and most everlasting – I seek and depend upon my Savior Jesus Christ.
I have one last question at the conclusion of this Old Testament study of hope. Do I have more of it?
Do I hope more now – than I did at the start of 2017?
I believe I do!
I trust in the promises of my God today and I will continue to trust in the promises of my God for tomorrow – even though I have no idea what is ahead for my family and me. In addition, I desire more than ever to abound in hope among the living! That’s you!
And I have a cord of hope now! I didn’t know I had one before this study. Now, I do. I’m aware of this life line of strength and security and I choose to hold it fast! Because that is the biggest lesson of all for me – hope is a decision. I can choose to grasp the cord of hope or choose some temporal gratification- for example, that handful of chocolate chips that smelled oh, so good.
No, I choose to voluntarily take hold of the cord of hope and in so doing I realize that there is no way that my hand can also keep hold of the chocolate chips. Unless I want a sticky, ooey-gooey mess!
The chocolate chips have no place to go except into Caleb’s pancakes!
So, there you go! Thanks for joining along with me in my hope study so far. It’s been awesome!!!
I am excited to dive into the New Testament now. I am certain that I will be blessed with even more truths about the hope that is offered and found in Jesus Christ!
Tobin, Lucy. Chocolate find smells like a theory. The Sydney Herald. 8 April 2010. Web. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
“What’s really in that luscious chocolate aroma?” Chemistry for Life. 29 August 2011. Web. Retrieved 30 April 2017.