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Hope.

Did you know that based on population data, I only have a 20% chance of being alive this time next year?

The odds are long, but then they always have been, and so far, I sit way out on the bell shaped curve, probably 2-3 standard deviations out, in terms of my survival. But when you are confronted with a statistic like that, how should we respond?

Do we give up hope, wait for the inevitable?

Do we plan for the inevitable and go sit on a beach somewhere?

Or do we just ignore that statistic and pretend it doesn’t exist?

Many people try to sell me hope on this journey, and the sales pitch comes in many forms which can probably be put into two broad categories. First, is the alternative medicine category; “I have the cure for you”; “you should try this diet”; “I know someone in India who can cure you” characterizes this response. This versions of hope is sold to me on the premise that there is an undiscovered cure for cancer that people know about, but the medical establishment has turned a blind eye to. The second category is more a faith based one. It is often characterized by comments like “Claim the healing and God will heal you”; “if you have faith, God will heal you”; and sometimes, just as “God will heal you”.

“I think hope is sometimes a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. We live in hope for one thing because the reality of the alternative scares us too much. In actual fact we are living in fear… or denial.”

This was a Facebook status I mused upon recently and the premise for the third response. What I have discovered is that there are in fact two types of hope. The first of which is characterized by the kind of blind faith that is often sold in the above formats, be that a faith in alternative treatments or a faith in God. This kind of hope has grandiose promises of a life free of suffering. These promises seem to offer a freedom from the life we may think we are stuck with, and a future fantasy that often really only serves as a form of escapism. At the heart of this kind of hope though, is the fear of our reality. Its a belief in the possible because the probable is too hard.

Its thinking we live in hope, but actually living in fear…

It’s a form of denial…

Which is why very often this kind of hope will collapse in the face of suffering, cause disillusionment, and become its antithesis, hopelessness.

This begs the question, what IS hope?

For me, hope is found by acknowledging my reality. It’s embracing the fact that I only have a 20% likelihood of being alive in a year, and knowing that my future will have suffering. It is taking my fears, my anxiety, and the life I find myself in and giving it over to something greater. When I submit my fears, I relinquish the control I try to have over them and I am stripped back to the absolute core of who I am.  In the process of that submission hope is birthed…

Acknowledging, and then submitting my reality to God, is the only place I have found hope. Hope that energizes me, hope that motivates me, and hope that what I do in this life, is working towards something far greater than I could ever imagine.

It is by knowing my reality, rather than ignoring it, that the seed of hope grows…

And true hope has powers far greater than fear…. It even conquers death.

I am at peace with my diagnosis and prognosis, yet I have hope. The hope is not necessarily in a cure, or in healing, it’s an intangible hope that permeates everything I touch and every day that I am alive. It’s a hope that is beyond the natural, that is Christ fueled, and allows me to live the life I was meant to, even if it wasn’t the life I had planned.

When hope is born from suffering rather than fear, that is when it becomes real.

Thanks for listening.

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Categories: Blog, Faith Tags: , , , , , , ,
  1. October 12, 2011 at 7:01 am

    I heard Rob Bell say that hope is mistranslated. It’s better described as certainty. This changes everything.

  2. jaydub26
    October 12, 2011 at 7:42 am

    As someone who is living with Metastatic Inflammatory Breast Cancer – I love your post – your view is also what I espouse as my positive but realistic view – knowing your prognosis but trying to live each day as positively as possible, – and trying to shift that bell curve slightly to the right by living longer so the stats look a bit better for the next person who comes along 🙂

  3. Lynn
    October 12, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Beautifully expressed, Jared.

  4. Soph
    October 18, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    amazing explanation jared! just one of your last sentences – “allows me to live the life I was meant to, even if it wasn’t the life I had planned” – I’m interested to know, do you believe it was destined or whatever for you to get cancer? Just curious to hear your thoughts as you seem to have done some sweet thinking about all this stuff 🙂

  5. Jared
    October 19, 2011 at 6:34 am

    Thanks for the comment Soph. To be honest, no, i don’t think I was destined to get cancer. I think that I am just extremely unlucky. When I say I am able to live the life I was meant to, I am really just talking about a bigger picture, i.e. a way of living life that is living beyond the circumstance we find ourselves in. This way is an attitude, an approach, a graciousness, but most of all living it in Christ. I hope that helps 🙂

  6. soph
    November 7, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Cool, that’s awesome. Thanks!

  7. Debbie
    November 11, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    wow – what a great golden nugget of wisdom/revelation – thanks for sharing!!

  8. cplus1
    December 16, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    ummm, that was a beautiful read. Thanks.

  9. September 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Hi Jared – I only just came across your bog today and then I found your faith bit and I am so happy to have found someone whose thinking is so clear and true. I too have bowel cancer and have struggled with the people who have tried to “sell me hope” in the form of alternative treatments -some in my own family who cannot understand why I won’t try all the strange treatments suggested. I have given a lot of thought to what my prognosis means to me and my life and how to make sense of how to live with the certainly of death. Life is fragile and can come upon us in many ways at any time but ‘knowing’ seems to make it very different. I am also a Christian and regular church goer and get a lot of emotional and practical support from begin such but I do now have the certainty of faith that you seem to have. I will ponder more on what you have said and see where it takes me. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts the way you have – its very helpful. Sending love.

  10. September 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    PS do you mind me sharing this in our church newsletter which I edit – I think a lot of people would be very interested.

    • Jared
      September 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm

      Hi Rosie, I don’t mind you sharing this, just as long as you reference appropriately and let me know what newsletter it is going into. Are you based in New Zealand? I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis, it is never easy to live with. I’m glad some of my writings might be of help to you in this process.

      Take care.

  11. Anita Fitzgerald
    October 22, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    Hi Jared,

    I don’t know you, but saw a link to your blog on a friends facebook page. Coincidentally I also work at ACH.
    I had to read this a couple of times (and will likely need to again) but I don’t think I’ve ever heard hope expressed in this way before… but YES! I’ve long been uncomfortable with the raising your hands to heaven business and proclaim your healing – most likely because it wasn’t what God was doing at the time and as you say, is often a diversion from reality. This is such an important message. I’m really glad you shared it.

    Blessings

  12. Penny
    October 24, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Hi Jared,
    My response when I read your story, this morning in the paper, was a heart felt cry for you and your wife and your baby girl. And at times like this it may be that we cry out to God and ask why? It does not seem fair. I know you must have had well meaning people reach out and tell you to have trust in God, faith. It seems a trite comment, easy for people to say this as they try and bury reality. You have probably had a lot of people pray for you already. My own mother died of cancer and so I know how devastating the whole process is and hurtful the inevitable outcome. However, I did send a prayer to God this morning for you, your wife and baby girl. I have seen miracles in my own life that I can only believe came from God. I don’t offer you any false hope but just say this, if you believe that God wants to heal you there is nothing to lose and if you are healed you have every reason to praise God, for seeing your circumstances and moving on your behalf. I felt to write this and get in contact because I have a loving God in my life that has surely performed miracles. I believe in the axiom “pass it on” and so I offer the only thing I have to give, because I don’t have spare money to give you unfortunately, and that is that I am more than willing to pray for you and believe for your healing as I believe God put this on my heart this morning. If you wish to find out more please email me.
    Love and Blessings in Christ,

  13. January 25, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    You are such an amaizing person considering what you are going through, you are able to preach the faith of Christ thruogh your pain l pray to the Almight to give you wisdom and peace that supases all understand to the very end.May God bless your family especially your wife she is a very strong woman, love you brother God bless

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