When my two uncles, friend, aunt, grandfather, and baby all died in a six year period it occurred to me that it might be easy to lose hope. I didn't lose it easily for other people. I still prayed for good things in the lives of my friends, and I still asked the Lord to move in situations outside of our family. But I did struggle with wondering if God had decided not to be good to me anymore. During that season—many, many times during that season—I wrestled with a persistent feeling of expectant grief and lost hope.
Like I was waiting for the next sucker punch of life.
I lived that way—like the next major loss was hiding around the bend—for several years. Even smaller losses crumbled me, like totaling my car, or losing our beloved English Bulldog, and in many ways, I felt like God was being silent. I couldn't hear Him well, my times with Him in His Word were dry, and when I wrote here in this space it was raw and fragile. I wore weariness like a straight-jacket, all bundled up inside of my low expectations and heartfelt disappointment.
Thankfully, things have changed.
I'm still easily emotional. I still have a gut response to take things personally, and I still wonder how God can seem so far away even when He says He's so close. But in the last two years I've realized the secret behind why a man (or woman) can say of the Lord, "Though He slay me, I will hope in Him (Job 13:15, ESV).
Hope is a Choice
Weariness is a feeling. Grab onto that for a second with me?
Hope is a choice. Weariness is a feeling.
Feelings can lie, and they don't have to direct our lives. But we women, we get a little feisty when someone tells us our feelings are wrong, don't we? We say things like, "don't tell me how to feel," and, "I can't change the way I feel!" But the truth is, if our feelings don't match up with the Word of God, something needs to change. Only one source can be 100% right, and I've walked this road long enough now to know that when I feel the most right, I'm probably wrong—in presentation, if not in truth.
If my feelings and the Bible don't match up, what needs to change? Me.
Here's where the application comes...
During my season of grief, I often felt like God wasn't there, like He didn't see me, didn't hear my prayers, didn't care. But the Bible says all of those feelings I had were wrong. It doesn't negate my feelings to know they're wrong—I very much felt alone, and unheard, even a bit unloved—the Bible simply tells me a different story.
God loves me, hears me, sees me, and yes, is fighting for me, even if I can't see it.
I believe it's true, because God's Word says it's true. And it's that simple truth that kept me from staying in a place of perpetual hopelessness.
"I'm not trying to say our emotions are always wrong or that we don’t have a right to our own feelings. Sometimes our emotions are very good, alerting us to danger, or revealing a deeper issue within our own hearts that needs attention, healing, and the grace of God. But they certainly can be wrong . . . or at least in need of tweaking. God gave us emotions as a barometer—they tell us both what's happening in our hearts and in our surroundings. Sometimes, they're right on the money, but more often than not, they need to come under the authority of the Word of God." (From How to Control Your Emotions, So They Don't Control You: A Mom's Guide to Overcoming).
Oh, my weary friend, I know you feel like giving up sometimes. I know you feel like God is far away, and that maybe He doesn't really care about what you're going through. But it simply isn't true. He sent His Son to die for you, to prove His love, and really, what more could He sacrifice to prove it than to give up Himself? He loves you...and today?
Today, I'd like to start a hope revolution.
A movement that says, "WE WILL CHOOSE HOPE! We will be hope warriors—fighting, clinging, desperately holding to the truth of God's Word that says He loves us, and is fighting for us, even when we can't see it or feel it."
Why could Job choose hope? Because He knew who God was. He trusted God's character in spite of great loss, great disappointment, great grief. He chose to believe in things unseen, and trust in truth over feelings. We can, too.
We can fight for hope with everything we have. And as we choose to believe what God's Word says about our lives over what our circumstances tell us, no matter how horrible they are at the moment (remember the story of Job), we'll find that our feelings will follow suit. I don't write this as a woman who has never known pain, or heart-wrenching loss. I write it as a woman who knows loss and disappointment, and has come out on the other side.
This is the secret to joy in the midst of pain. This is the secret to overcoming on a daily basis. This is the secret to finding, and keeping, hope.
Today, I choose hope. I will be a Hope Warrior, and fight for it with everything I have. I hope you'll join me. (<<---Tweet that!)
Pray with me, friend?
Jesus, help me. I do believe, Lord, help my unbelief (Mark 9:24)! Sometimes, when I just can't see You, or feel You near, I lose hope. But today, with your help, I choose hope. I will be a Hope Warrior. Help me fight for it with everything I have. In Jesus' Name. Amen.