In 1962, a young Air Force corporal named Dick Hoyt was thrilled to welcome his new son into the world. Like many new fathers, he was filled with hope about what his son might achieve and who his son might become. Those hopes were dashed however, when his son was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. He would never walk, never talk—and there was no hope.
Except in this new father’s heart, hope wouldn’t die. Instead, he threw himself into the life of his son, refusing to keep him away from normal boyhood activities. Although the son couldn’t walk or talk, he took him swimming and sledding, pushed the public school system to include his son, and taught him to read. When he was ten years old, this father scored a partnership with leading engineers at Tufts University, who developed a computer that the speechless son would be able to use to communicate. His first words with that computer weren’t, “Hi, dad,” but “Go Bruins!” The kid was a sports fan to the core.
When he was fifteen years old, he told his dad through this computer that he wanted to run in a local charity 5K race. His dad was no runner but said he would give it a shot, so he pushed his son in his wheelchair all 3.1 miles, finishing in second to last place. That night, his son told him, “Dad, when I’m running, I don’t feel handicapped.”
Ever since that day, this father-son team has been on a journey that has captured the hearts of millions. They have run, swam, and biked hundreds of marathons, duathalons, triathalons, and even six of the toughest races on earth–the ironman–together, with the father pulling or pushing his son the entire way. In 1992, they ran and biked across the United States, 3,735 miles, in just 45 days. And even though one man is doing all the running, they call themselves, “Team Hoyt.”
Now realize this: that kid will never get better. His life circumstances have not changed a bit. He can’t walk any more than he could as a child. He can’t talk any more than he could ten years ago. Yet this picture of Team Hoyt is what the Bible calls hope. Because in Scripture, hope isn’t about what happens in front of you, it’s about who’s standing, who’s pushing behind you. As Paul puts it in Ephesians 1:18,
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.”
Hope is about the God who stands behind us.
Written by Dr. Joshua Rice, Instructor in New Testament for the College of Graduate and Professional Studies
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