A large amount of this post was influenced by a sermon I heard a few days ago. The words that Louie Giglio has in his new series, “Hope Has a Name” seems to fit in perfectly with how I see myself in my own practice as a marriage and family therapist associate. I listened to his sermon over and over and not only did I have a new outlook on hope, but I gained a new perspective on how God can instill hope for others.
When I first began planning for my own private practice, all I could think about was how cool this new process was going to be and how I could truly tailor my services to show the love of God and help others within their struggles and enrich lives all over Indianapolis and the surrounding areas. While this was an exciting time, I needed a name to call my own small business. After two weeks of prayers and asking my wife and other people of their opinions on a name, I chose the name New Hope Counseling, LLC.
I knew what “New Hope” meant to me personally, however, I had not yet discovered how “New Hope” could be and would be implemented into my own practice and how folks can and will experience hope, joy and love of God.
When I was younger, my home church was named New Hope Christian Church. It was here that my pastors, Harold Keck and Jeff Keller were two primary people people that guided my decisions to go into ministry and pursue an education at Johnson University (formerly Johnson Bible College). After 4 years of undergraduate studies, I entered graduate school and my first supervisor, Rick Townsend deepened my love for God and therapy and placing God in therapy. His own counseling center is called “New Hope Counseling Center.” Finally, my very first job offer post-graduate came from an agency called, you guessed it, New Hope of Indiana (formerly St. Vincent New Hope).
Even though it took me two weeks to come up with a name for my practice, God was telling me that He already had a name for my practice and it was right there in front of me. Until last week, I wanted to instill hope in others because, with hope – everything can change. Even with the smallest amount of hope, individuals can pursue joy, couples can grow and laugh with each other and families can reunite and finally have a get-together without a grumble. Hope can change everything, but it also creates possibilities – we just have to see it.
In his sermon, Louie Giglio recounts a memory of him talking with a “CEO friend” that he has. Louie had a big meeting coming up and stated, “I hope everything goes well.” His friend responded, “Hope is a ‘bad strategy.'” I am sure that all of us reading this article has said to a sick friend, “I hope you feel better, or I hope you have a great week!” These kind words may make our friends or those around us feel good – for about a second. It is good to know people care for us and are concerned about our well-being or how our work week goes, but this type of hope, the way Louie Giglio describes, is a “fluffy pillow” hope that gives comfort to know that “everything will be okay.” This type (fluffy pillow) of hope is a bad strategy. Why? This hope does not provide the trip to the hospital, the means to pay for medication, a hot cup of soup to relieve a sore throat, etc.
To a single parent struggling to make ends meet or the couple that think there is no way out and that their marriage is hopeless folks can say, “Oh wow… I hope everything works out for you.” This type of hope does not find a job for the single parent or lift the pressures that he/she may be feeling of raising a child alone. This type of hope fails to reconnect a deteriorating marriage – I think you get the point.
So where does our hope come from? For the longest time, I thought it was my personal responsibility to instill hope in others and (quite literally) give folks the hope and motivation they need to break free of addiction, provide structure in a strained marriage or completely renovate a family’s needs. Thankfully, this is not for me to decide. This is the perfect place for God to enter. Romans 15:13 states,
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
This brings us to the first point:
- Our Hope is Rooted in God.
- It is easy to see the “fluffy pillow” hope that allows individuals, couples, and families to make sure promises for the idealistic future. “I hope this year goes well.” “I hope my children speak to us again.” “I hope my husband can overcome his addiction.” Like I said, hope is a bad strategy. The “God of hope” is not a fluffy pillow type of God, but a God of hope that is going to sink down to the bottom and provide the solid ground and firm foundation to stand on at our lowest point and build into what God has for us.
We do not float up to a God to receive hope, but we must realize that God is with us wherever we are and that His hope provides joy and peace so that you and I may abound in hope.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” Hebrews 11:1
A struggling mother says to me, “God is not here. God is not with me, He is not in this home.” Paul writes in Hebrews that our faith allows us to have confidence in what we hope for and the certainty about what we do not see. People can ask, “Why do you believe in creation and not evolution?” A response can be, “It is written in scripture and even though I did not see the beginning, I can be assured, by faith that God is the Creator of heaven and earth.” Faith allows us the confidence or joy and peace that we can trust in our God of hope and trust that, even if we cannot see the end, we can have assurance that our God of hope can and will provide.
“God does not need to what is seen to produce what is real.”
Happiness and joy are different in many ways. In moments notice, we can go from sad to happy or from happy to angry. Happiness in God can be seen as a buoy out at sea. When storms and winds come, the buoy can be covered by the waves and be tossed around in every direction, however, joy is the aspect of the same buoy that will not sink and remains in place regardless of how big and how strong the storm or winds may be. When we possess joy in God, we have something celebrate life regardless of what is happening in our lives. In a previous post called “Over Exhaustion,” I touch on the joy that God provides for us and despite of what may be happening around us, we can trust in God to provide what we need even when we cannot see it ourselves.
The second point is:
- Our hope is centered in Jesus.
- Our lives are filled with so many things, yet Jesus can be the one person we can relate every single aspect of our lives towards. We can say our hope is rooted in God, but it is centered in Jesus because Jesus is God. Our “fluffy pillow” hope that says, “Oh… I hope everything will be okay,” does not allow Jesus to be the rock, to be the cornerstone, to be the firm foundation, but keeps us from coming to a reality, truth and more importantly, action.
As I write this article, I have no idea how many people will read these words or how much they will influence or effect folks I work with, the community in which I live, the church I attend, or the city of Indianapolis and beyond. I continue to ponder this message (see above) and it is a message that needs to be spread. As you read these words, I encourage you to share with someone you care about – Christian, non-Christian, regardless of belief, values, morals, etc. Pick that one person you love and care about and share this message. I am writing these words, but this is far more than a blog – it is a life saved from depression. It is a marriage restored, a family reunited, a church unified, a city reborn.
So why did I name my own practice “New Hope Counseling?” For the sole reason that I cannot provide hope for others, but the gifts that God has given me allow his hope to be poured into others from the joy and peace I have within myself. The first part of Hebrews 6:19 states:
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
Just as our hope is rooted in God and centered in Jesus, we can have the assurance that God will never leave us – hope and joy can be present in the midst of any and every storm and we can trust that God is our firm foundation and we are secure.
If you would like more information, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, filling out your contact information on the Groff & Associates Website, or by calling 317-474-6448 ext. 112.