Classic rock music flowed out of the large speakers on the floor. I closed my eyes and took several deep, controlled breaths to help calm my heart rate. I tried to turn my focus to the familiar music instead of what was about to happen.
“In through my nose and slowly out through my mouth. Just like I instruct my patients. It’s only going to be an hour and a half. I got this! Just gotta breathe and stay still.” I tried some motivational self-talk as I sat awkwardly on the soft burgundy bench. My heart thought we were running the Boston Marathon, and apparently, my hands and legs thought so as well by how much they were sweating.
I tried to have patience while the artist prepared his ink and needles. He poured out each color one by one—pink, red, black, white, and green. He wrapped the needle with some blue saran wrap looking stuff, but it wasn’t doing what he needed it to do. He kept retrying and then gave up. I hope we don’t need that, I thought.
As he continued to prepare, I attempted to distract myself with the familiar Red Hot Chili Peppers song “Under the Bridge,” discussing the origin with my husband. Part of me couldn’t believe I was following through with this crazy idea, and the other part was thrilled it was finally happening.
My husband, Dan, sat behind me with a coy grin on his face as though he were trying to hold back laughter, but I knew he was also nervous for me. As the artist brought the needle to my leg, I exhaled like a steam engine, attempting to chug up a hill—slow and steady. I tried not to clench every muscle in my body.
I had to see the expressions on my face, and I must admit from the selfies I snapped in the process, my expressions were quite amusing. Dan made sure to take multiple pictures to capture the moment of my pain and awkwardness. As the artist colored in the picture, my thigh stung as though multiple little needles were being dragged across my skin. Probably because that’s exactly what was happening.
The event was a big deal for me because I’m rather a wuss. My brothers will go skydiving and bungee jumping. Not me. No. Thank You. I’m not a fan of heights, bats, snakes, or enclosed places. I’ll go on your average roller coaster, but I’ll scream my head off the entire time.
I’ve always been the type to talk about getting a tattoo, but that’s all it was. Talk. When it came to the follow through, that wasn’t going to happen. Until I was shaken to the point I needed to have a distinct mindset engraved on my skin to remind me daily of my new focus.
After over an hour of prickling pain, my new mindset was engraved on my skin. In big, bold black cursive letters, HOPE lay diagonally across my thigh a few inches above my knee. A single pink peony lay above and behind the H. My mission this year has been to grasp for hope in all things and in all circumstances—to change my perspective in everyday life. Hope not in earthly things but in the eternal, in Christ Jesus and His promises.
Hope during …
…tantrums in Target
…broken down cars
…job loss—multiple times
Webster’s Dictionary defines hope as “to cherish a desire with anticipation: to want something to happen or be true.” In everyday language, we tend to make hope synonymous with optimism. We often think: I hope I get a big tax return this year; the interview went really well. I hope I get the job; or I hope we get pregnant soon.
We desire what we view as a positive outcome to result from the unknown. We express hope with excitement, anticipation, and sometimes nervousness. Hope and optimism are healthy mindsets to have, but this kind of hope is not the same as biblical hope. Rather, biblical hope is much larger and deeper than any optimism we could imagine.
Biblical hope is much bigger than just hoping for what we desire to happen. When we have biblical hope, our thinking is backward to optimistic hope in that we must submit the unknown to the hope in Christ Jesus. My pastor, Jim Thompson, says, “Biblical Hope is a future guarantee that hinges on God’s promises.”
We must relinquish our desires to the will and promises of God. Hope should change how we live our daily present lives. The Bible Project animation studio explains the difference between biblical hope and optimism in their video “Hope:”
Biblical hope is based on a person, which makes it different than optimism. Optimism is about choosing to see in any situation how circumstances could work out for the best, but biblical hope is not focused on circumstances. In fact, hopeful people in the Bible often recognize there is no evidence things will get better but you choose hope anyway.
Hope is not a feeling here. Hope is an action—a choice. We choose to hope in the Lord and His eternal promises no matter what the outcome. In the end, the Lord is still King, and He is a loving, sovereign Father. We can’t see the whole picture, but He can.
As children trust their earthly father will catch them when they fall, we need to build trust that our heavenly Father will do just the same. He knows our future, and He has us in the palm of His hand.
Sometimes when all is dark around us, the only hope we have is in God Himself (Isa. 8:17). Even when our father dies from cancer, we don’t know how we’ll pay the bills, or we may never have another child, still, we fight for hope in the Lord.
Take It Home:
- Are you in a place in your life where you need to change your focus but are struggling to see through the fog?
- Has anything shaken you to your core and shown you that you needed to do a big reevaluation of your life, purpose, mindset?
- What desires do we need to relinquish to the will of God?
- How could a biblical-hope perspective change our daily lives?
Psalm 33:18, ESV
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those
who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love.
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