As I reflected on some of the issues that are going on in my life and around me, I was reminded that God does not delay His work any longer than necessary and that His delays are always with a greater purpose in mind.
When I search the faces of friends and family that are enduring long-term difficulties and I examine the groaning and disappointment in my own heart at some of the things that have transpired over the last year, I am pressed to either keep asking God to help me believe His Word or walk away. It is an active and ongoing choice to go to God, time and again, admitting that I need His help believing Him when the things I see might suggest that there is no hope.
In these times, we have the opportunity to remember where our hope as Christians comes from. It cannot be found anywhere but in Christ alone. Somewhere along the journey, we often gather up other hopes that do disappoint and fail us. If our hope is in our future, our family relationships, our successful career, our education, our talents and qualifications, our friends, our nice stuff…we’ll be let down. It is a process of letting go of those hopes so that we can cling rightly to the One hope we have. That is not to say that God might still provide in those areas and perhaps even abundantly, but these things are not to be our hope.
There are some women I care about dearly who hoped for happy families and healthy marriages and, well, that isn’t what they got. I want to tell them something that will fix their situations and restore their hope. I did point out that God is our hope and yet I felt that my presentation was a feeble attempt to give them what they long for. I get that they are in pain now and I get that eternity seems a long way off and I get that they don’t see a tangible resolution that meets their expectations, that satisfies their previous hopes. Ultimately, it I know it is the Lord that must fill them with Himself as they find themselves feeling empty and it is the Spirit that must make His Word come alive for them.
Somehow, in the midst of our deferred hopes or dashed hopes, God makes a way for us to acknowledge Him as the hope we have for today and every tomorrow until He returns and makes all things new. I suppose that one of the advantages of being in the trenches right alongside these dear ones with my own collection of hopes disappointed is that in this season, God provides me a unique ability to speak into their lives as someone acquainted with their grief, perhaps not their specific circumstances, but the common denominator of hoping in something or someone in addition to God and finding out that hope was misplaced. I’m not on my high horse handing them spiritual platitudes. I got knocked off and I’m right there beside them grappling with what I’ve read for years in scripture and what I want to believe against all odds, but it’s not easy to actually live that when hardship hits and keeps on coming.
Psalm 27:13-14: “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
Job 19:25-26: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.”