First-time parents Joe and Tahni Cullen were thrust into a nightmare when their two-year-old son, Josiah, suddenly lost his ability to speak, play and socialize. He was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, a condition that affects social interaction, communication (both verbal and nonverbal), behavior and interests. The Cullens underwent overwhelming physical, emotional and financial struggles in their attempts to see Josiah recover and regain speech. While the other children around him improved, Josiah only got worse. But five years later, something miraculous happened.
One day, while practicing his spelling words on his iPad, Tahni asked Josiah to spell the word “heal.” But instead of spelling heal, or one of the other simple words he had previously practiced, Josiah typed “God is a good giver.” When Tahni, still in shock asked her son how he did that, he responded with “God is everlasting Jehovah.” Josiah, who had not been formally taught to read or write, suddenly began to type on his iPad profound paragraphs about science, history, business, music strangers and heaven. Josiah’s eye-opening visions, heavenly encounters and supernatural experiences pushed his family outside of their comfort zone of predictable theology into a mind-blowing encounter with Jesus. Tahni created a facebook page called Josiah’s Fire so that his words might reach and bless other people. His mother received countless messages through the page about how God is using Josiah’s words to speak to them in their own lives. His words transformed even the most hopeless hearts.
Josiah’s story is a powerful example of how God can do anything, with anyone, at any time, in any way He sees fit. The times we live in are so troubled and many of the situations we face can leave us feeling hopeless. Everyday people are dealing with unemployment, natural catastrophes, violence, terrorism and uncertainty in what the future holds. In today’s world, it can even feel like there is little hope for the future. Just like the Cullens, we too have been in situations where it’s hard to find hope in our extreme hardship. Even biblical heroes like Job, Moses, Jonah, Jeremiah and the most powerful prophet in the Old Testament, Elijah had times when they wanted to give up. The problem many of us face is in our definition of hope, which is often different from God’s. The biblical definition of hope is not about hoping so, but knowing so. Psalm 119:74 says, “I have put my hope in Your Word.” When we hope in God, we are sure assured in God. When all hope is lost, we can find assurance in God, and His Word.
When a person trusts God’s Word, they can know for certain that they have a secure and certain future, for God will never allow us to suffer beyond our own capabilities to handle it. There is nothing more certain than hope in God, who will never leave us or forsake us.
There are various types of hope that we can hold onto when we feel like our world is falling apart. Josiah and his family’s story is a powerful example of two types of hope: restful hope and future hope. When we’re going through a major trial in life, like the Cullens did when Josiah was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it’s easy to wrestle with tomorrow when you lay down to sleep. What-ifs haunt your mind and don’t allow you to sleep as you worry about what happens tomorrow. But worrying about tomorrow is borrowing trouble from tomorrow and spending it on today. Psalm 62:5 says, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.” Restful hope allows you to sleep at night because you know tomorrow is in God’s hands. When you realize that tomorrow is already taken care of by God alone and the hope you have in Him, then you can find rest. It’s easier to sleep tonight if you know tomorrow is in God’s hands.
Then, there’s future hope. The Bible tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you, not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). Josiah’s story is a great example of God having amazing plans for life. His plans are not intended to harm us but prosper us. God knows the plans He has for you, even if you don’t know them or understand them. God knows your future and is planning it better than anyone else can. Hope is the knowledge that we are being changed for the better as we trust in God’s promises.
Building a foundation of hope will help carry you through the storms of life. First, submit yourself to God. He is the source of our hope. When we come to Him in humility, He restores us. Next, strengthen your faith. Allow God’s previously fulfilled promises to renew your hope. God has given us written record of countless ways He has provided hope for believers in centuries in the past. Josiah’s story is a great modern day example of hope restored. Finally, trust in God’s timing. Sometimes, God answers our prayers and fulfills our hopes quickly. There are other times, He allows us to wait. Remember, it is through faith and patience that hope is fulfilled.
If you’re struggling with hope today, pray this prayer: Lord, help me to hear you saying, “I am your hope” over all the other voices. I’m running to you with both hands stretch out and grabbing on to You. Fill me up with hope and give me a tangible reminder today that hope is an unbreakable spiritual lifeline. Help me to also see that all things are possible with You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.