Hope is such an important and powerful virtue to cultivate, yet it’s one that I don’t think about very often. That changed after I read Chapter 2 of this book. What an amazing reflection this chapter holds! There was drama, intensity, heroism and detailed descriptions of suffering. I was blown away both by the personal story that Emily shared about her friend’s brain cancer and the story of the martyrdom of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity.
In the recounting of Emily and Michele’s mutual friend, Stacy, Emily revealed how Stacy was diagnosed with Stage III brain cancer as a young mother of two small children. Her courage during her diagnosis and treatment was astounding to read about. She was full of joyful hope even in the midst of the life-threatening disease. She was bringing hope to her friends and inspiring others to grow in their faith through her suffering.
It made me think about what I would do if I was in that same situation and I am not sure I would be able to be so positive and hopeful, especially as a mother with young children. I tend to be an anxious person and have to continually remind myself not to mother in fear in the small ordinary situations of life. I can only imagine that if I was presented with a terminal illness I would be on the verge of panic. It was amazing to me to read about this woman who endured so much with so much grace and trust.
It was powerful to hear Stacy share her experience of praying to Christ to send her a friend that was going through a similar situation as she was. He revealed to her that He would be that friend since He knew just what it was like to suffer so much and that she should hope in Him.
Hearing about these types of stories always breaks my heart so I was very relieved to read that Stacy miraculously survived and is now encouraging others with her story. My heart always goes out to the children in these terminally ill situations and I think about how painful it would be to be the dying parent leaving young children behind. I can only imagine how unbearably awful that would be to go through for the whole family. The story of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, which followed Stacy’s story in this chapter, really struck a chord within me because they both died leaving their infants behind.
I am due with my third little girl this December, so reflecting on how St. Felicity delivered her baby girl in prison and was martyred a few days later was awe-inspiring and incredibly heart-wrenching. I knew that these two saints were friends and were martyred but I had never really thought about the fact that they were leaving children behind. They sacrificed their motherhood and the earthly love for their children to die for Christ. That takes heroic hope and way more courage than I can imagine.
The most amazing aspect about these heroic women is how deeply they trusted in God and had the profound hope in His promise that nothing is impossible. At the end of the chapter, Emily reminds us that we are called to hope in what seems impossible, like believing that “every tongue [will]confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (page 28), even in the midst of our secular society. We are called to encourage others who are discouraged or suffering by sharing the message of hope. Whether that be praying for them, listening to them, comforting them, or befriending them, we have the power through God’s grace to be beacons of hope in a dark world. What an amazing privilege!
To Ponder, Reflect and Discuss:
- How can you bring hope to those in your life who are discouraged or suffering?
- What doubt or skepticism is holding you back from cultivating grace-filled hope?
See the video for this week’s chapter, plus download a printable journal and more at The Friendship Project Group Study page.
Next week, we’re reading Chapter 3: Cultivating Charity and Chapter 4: Practicing Prudence. For the complete reading schedule and information about our Book Club, visit The Friendship Project Book Club page.
Copyright 2017 Hannah Christensen