I gave up hope this morning.
Aren’t we silly people sometimes? We learn something, we think we have a grasp on it, only to go right back to our old way of thinking and behaving. How we must make God sigh sometimes.
Just two–2!!–short days ago, I was filled with hope. Filled with the encouragement that my God is a God of hope and that Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. — was truth for my life. That out of the mess I have made of my life, God all along has been permitting the story line of my life and that He has a plan for this broken, chaotic life of mine.
I went to bed last night a bit goofed up, questioning the truth of Jeremiah 29:11, and I woke up under a thick fog of discouragement. Where had my hope gone?
As I’ve mulled it over this morning during work, I came to a couple of conclusions:
1. It’s not my hope. It’s God’s. His plans include giving me a future and a hope. But the hope is not mine, it belongs to Him. It looks very different from my hope. My hope is wrapped up in the dreams and plans I have made for my own life–and I still, many times, selfishly expect God to fulfill them the way I would arrogantly demand Him to fill them. I have to let go of those dreams–the man-made dreams of my mind and my heart. For a very personal and hurtful example: I don’t want to live alone the rest of my life. I have prayed that God would send me someone that I could commit to in a godly, covenant marriage. That God would send someone to fill the loneliness of my heart. It has been my hope. But it hasn’t happened yet, nor are there any good prospects on the horizon. 🙂 What if God is calling me to lay down my dreams (more than just for a husband–I have lots of dreams: dreams to write a book, dreams to live an adventurous life) in order that He can fulfill His plans for me? What if His plans for me mean never marrying again? Oh, it hurts to lay down our dreams. It hurts to surrender them over to God, especially when we can’t clearly see what plans He has for our future. But that’s where trust comes in. The hope he longs to give me and does give me is His hope. The hope He longs to give you is His hope. We must be willing to lay down our own dreams in order to make room for Jeremiah 29:11 to be truth in our lives. From there, we will be given a hope that will not be shaken.
2. Sometimes–and this is embarrassing, but I’m hoping that some of you can relate–sometimes God firmly places hope in my soul and I find myself purposefully dropping it. Not holding on. Part of this is a trust issue–do I, do you really trust God to give us a future and a hope? Do we truly believe that He has plans for our lives? Sometimes the idea is too wonderful, too overpowering that I let my default of doubt-which is sin-drop that line of hope. I don’t want to be hurt again, therefore I’ll refuse to hope, especially if it is God’s hope that He has given me. How ridiculous is that?? But wait, it gets worse. Other times I drop the hope I have been given out of more nefarious reasons, such as self-pity, selfishness, pride, stubbornness–the list could go on. Why do we do this? I believe this is where I was at this morning when I woke up terribly discouraged. I dropped the line of hope that had been given me for all these reasons and more, including the realization that I need to surrender my dreams to Him, realizing that they may never come true. We watched Frozen last night–which, of course ended in the typical “Happy Ending”. Well, God may have a “different” Happy Ending for me–am I going to accept that? Are you?
I would like to say that I’m overflowing with hope this afternoon, but that’s not true. However, maybe I’m not intended to, because sometimes that overflowing hope can be deceiving and disappear as quickly as it comes. Instead, maybe God intends for us to have a steadily growing hope–which, as I look back over the past years, I have to admit I see it. I see someone who has gone from life-ending despair, to having this ember of hope that is slowly but steadily growing into a fire of love for her Savior. “Hesed” love–enduring love.
As I wrote a couple of days ago, I finished reading Paul Miller’s “A Loving Life”. I would recommend it to anyone, especially to married couples or couples who are struggling. As a divorcee where remarriage to my former spouse is not a possibility, it was a painful book to read. But it was a hopeful book as well. I’ll close this post with one last quote from Paul Miller:
Suffering is the crucible for love. We don’t learn how to love anywhere else. Don’t misunderstand; suffering doesn’t create love, but it is a hothouse where love can emerge. Why is that? The great barrier to love is ego, the life of the self. In long-term suffering, if you don’t give in to self-pity, almost imperceptibly, self dies. This death of self offers ideal growing conditions for love. So, not surprisingly, this book on love, the book of Ruth, begins with the descent of Naomi’s family into a crucible of suffering.
I want self to die. We need ourselves to die, so that love can grow. Suffering truly is a crucible for love. Read the book of Ruth. Slowly. See what God does. Then be willing to lay down your dreams and allow His plan for your life to unfold. This is what I’m trying to learn.