A Mother’s Day Message of Hope

With Mother’s Day coming up, and with my own sweet mom navigating a recent health scare, I’m especially reminded this year that having the love and support of a mom is a big deal – no matter how old we are.

When I was growing up, I watched how my mom dealt with difficulties and challenges (a tragic family death, founding and running a busy non-profit, a brain seizure condition that mimicked depression, and so on), and how hard she tried to cultivate a sense of peace in the storms. In fact, since everyone asks where my name comes from, my parents were Peace Corps volunteers in India before I was born and my name is the Hindi word for “peace.”

It’s a hard name to live up to. Just because I’m named “Peace” doesn’t mean it’s intuitive. None of us are born with a peace gene. But in the last few years, as I’ve been tackling my next research project on mental health, and writing my devotionals, Find Rest, Find Joy and Find Hope, I am growing more focused on how to cultivate true peace and joy regardless of the circumstances around me. As much as I’d like to steer clear of trials, they usually are the instruments God uses to do this work.

Here’s what I’m learning: when we allow trials to do a work in us instead of a number on us, that’s where hope becomes real and alive. (Read Romans 5:3-5 to see how this can be possible!)

This became reality for me recently in the strangest place – a cancer treatment center. I was wearing a flimsy hospital gown, nervous to face the pain of yet another needle biopsy. It was routine – just to check a spot that had a little question mark around it – but is such a thing ever routine?

Still, I decided to steady my mind on how grateful I was for medication to dull the pain, tests to diagnose me, and God’s plans to build character and produce hope in me even in the pain. What a blessing to live in a time when doctors can get such a clear picture of my health (which continues to be fine – the biopsy was clear).

This recent test brought to mind a short piece in my newest book release, a devotional journey called Find Hope. Maybe this idea of giving thanks in all things will meet you where you are today. In fact, maybe this 60-day journey is something you and your mom (or you and your daughter!) could get started on together, just in time for Mother’s Day. Here’s an excerpt:

Day 20

Giving Thanks in All Things

I was lying on the table, trembling. In the months since learning I had breast cancer, I had been poked and prodded more than I thought possible. It was caught early, but still involved many biopsies, treatments, radiation, disruptions to my schedule, and quite a bit of fear. Not so much a fear of dying, but of pain. I am a wimp when it comes to pain and needles. And now pain and needles seemed like an everyday occurrence. Then a routine OB/GYN visit discovered something abnormal. Great. Just great. So there I was on the table, needing another painful biopsy, grappling with fear.

Suddenly the Scripture from my morning devotional came to mind. First Thessalonians 5:16-18 says to give thanks in all circumstances. Which meant I needed to give thanks for this. It completely took me aback as I was waiting for the doctor to walk in. I realized there were actually things to be thankful for.

I had been focused on the pain of the test, but I began telling God, Thank you, God, that this test even exists! Thank You for the medical community’s skill in stopping small problems from becoming big ones. Thanks for being with me. Thanks for drawing me closer to You rather than farther away.

I realized that in challenging times, we usually focus on all the things to not give thanks for, but we can make a conscious choice to turn worry into worship. We can choose to say, yes, the enemy meant this for evil, but God can turn it to good. And one of the greatest “goods” is the precious opportunity to see God come close.

Not long ago, a pastor asked how my health was doing. He said his brother had cancer too – a very serious type. His brother had recently said he was grateful for this time in his life. Shocked, the pastor exclaimed, “But you could die!”

His brother responded, “Sure. But because of going through this, I have seen Jesus so clearly and so closely. I honestly don’t know that I would change it.”

Something miraculous happens when we choose to give thanks in all things. We suddenly see a bigger picture, and it feeds our hope. Even though it’s something we wouldn’t have chosen going in, I agree with that pastor’s brother. I’m not sure I would change a thing.

Final thoughts: Seeing trials as a pathway to peace

Friends, your fears might not grip you on a medical table. Maybe they’re present in relationship stress. Or a financial blow. Or any untold number of other things that threaten our health, stability, or wellbeing. Or, even harder sometimes, the wellbeing of someone we love.

So here are four questions to ask ourselves that might help us see our pain not as yet one more standalone tragedy, but as a pathway to peace:

  • How can this present challenge help me see Jesus up close?
  • Is there anything in this trial – this circumstance – that I can sincerely “give thanks” for?
  • How have I seen God work in trials in the past, and what does that imply about the future?
  • Looking at those prior painful trials, how far has God brought me in my faith?

These are the questions that move us away from hopelessness and toward the life-giving hope that God wants to anchor us in. A hope that doesn’t hinge on outcomes, but hinges on Him.

This is the journey my new devotional Find Hope takes us on. I searched scripture and science and created a 60-day path that combines Biblical wisdom with practical, doable habits that cultivate hope. It is carefully crafted, and the illustrator beautifully designed every page in full color (you have to take a look inside the book). It is a book I’d be so honored to see you put in your own mom’s hands this Sunday for Mother’s Day.

Let me know if you and your mom (or daughter) go through this book together. I’d love to hear your takeaways. And of course, Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms, stepmoms, mom-in-laws, spiritual moms, and grandmas out there. Did I cover everyone? You wear so many hats. Mine is off to you today.

And if you are interested in having Shaunti speak on kindness for your workplace, church, school or community group, please contact Nicole Owens at nowens@shaunti.com.

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