It is time for you to start a hope chest!
While preparing for a women’s event at our church, God brought to my mind a hope chest. As I thought on this further and studied it out, I quickly understood all God’s children need one!
For my younger readers who may not be familiar with this term, a hope chest, also called dowry chest or cedar chest, is a piece of furniture traditionally used to collect items such as clothing and household linen by unmarried young women in anticipation of married life. Most traditional hope chests were made with cedar wood which is a natural insect and fungus repellent. Although it lost its popularity in the 1950s, smaller jewelry-box-sized versions used to keep personal mementos were still around into the 1980s.
Although you may not need a hope chest in the original usage of the term, I would venture you most certainly will benefit from one as I will describe. Let’s first look at hope, the basis for this term. Here we start from a much firmer foundation. Unlike a young girl waiting for an unknown husband, we not only know who our bridegroom is, but we know Him intimately. He has called us to Himself, paid our ransom, and washed us completely clean. We now can stand firmly on the foundation of hope He has provided for us.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Isaiah 61:10, AMPC
Interestingly, the term “hope chest” or “cedar chest” is used in the United States and “glory box” in Australia! When my Google search revealed this term, well, let’s just say I yelled a hearty “Yes and amen!”
Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty— he is the King of glory.
Psalm 24:7-10, NIV
What does it mean for us as believers to make a hope chest? Just as each of our journeys with the Father is unique, each of us will have our own unique way of making our hope chest. Perhaps you like to journal your prayers and the words Father speaks to you. Maybe you like to write notes in the margins of your Bible as Father highlights them in your spirit. It could be, if you have an artistic bent, that you record your impressions with paint and paper.
My personal hope chest is virtual and is accessed most often via my iPad. Whatever your preferred medium and method is not really the concern. The key action I want to encourage you to take is to be purposeful about recording both God’s faithfulness in your life and His personal messages to you.
So now that you have an idea of what a hope chest might look like for you personally, let’s consider why it is important. There are many reasons it is important, but I am going to focus on two. Just as a hope chest is a collection of items needed for a future season, your hope chest will be a personal collection of remembrances to draw upon for your future needs of hope and encouragement.
We can find a powerful example of this from the life of David.
And Achish said to David, I know that you are as blameless in my sight as an angel of God; nevertheless the princes of the Philistines have said, He shall not go up with us to the battle. So David and his men rose up early in the morning to return to the land of the Philistines. But the Philistines went up to Jezreel [to fight against Israel] (1 Sam. 29:9, 11, AMPC).
NOW WHEN David and his men came home to Ziklag on the third day, they found that the Amalekites had made a raid on the South (the Negeb) and on Ziklag, and had struck Ziklag and burned it with fire” (1 Sam. 30:1, AMPC).
David and his men were sent home by the leader of the Philistines and were not allowed to join them in fighting against Israel. Upon returning to their home camp, they found their camp burned and their wives and children taken captive as well as their livestock and other possessions at the hands of the Amalekites.
David was greatly distressed, for the men spoke of stoning him because the souls of them all were bitterly grieved, each man for his sons and daughters. But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God (1 Sam. 30:6, AMPC).
I believe what we see happening in the verse above is David opening up his personal hope chest and finding within it what he needed to go and successfully face this battle. He did this by remembering all the times in his life that God had spoken to him, guided him, and delivered him from his enemies. As he reflected and recounted the goodness of the Lord, He had no doubt that the Lord would be with him for the current battle he was facing.
Another huge benefit of our hope chest is that it is a source of encouragement and teaching for others. As we are diligent to record what God is showing us as well as how He has been our protector, guide, and provider, we will have a wealth of testimonies and wisdom to use in helping others along in their understanding of the Father. When a friend needs counsel or encouragement, we will have a source of ready supply.
I hope you are beginning to understand why it is so important to build your own hope chest! Although the Word of God is our ultimate hope chest, having a place where we can go to find remembrances of what God has done specifically and personally in our own lives is a tremendous blessing.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds (Ps. 77:11-12, NIV).
Also, before I sign off, let’s take a moment to reflect on the fact that what a hope chest was normally made of, cedar wood, is a natural pest repellent! Similarly, our hope chest will be a powerful weapon against Satan, the biggest “pest” in our lives, as we are faithful to fill it with testimonies of God’s goodness in our lives.
Wherever you find yourself today, be it full of hope or feeling hopeless, I encourage you to start filling up your hope chest.
Featured Image by Flickr