Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Hope: The First Light of Advent


This last year, I've struggled with this word.  I remember asking, what does "hope" really mean?  What is it?  Because whatever it is, I think I've lost it. 

Thankfully, someone pointed me directly to the Scriptures.  So I started a word study... looking up every reference to "hope" in the online Bible.  There are 17 references to "hope" in the small book of Job, and I got stuck there.  

It was as if I were sliding down a muddy slope, and my foot caught on a rock and I stopped with a jolt.  For in the midst of a rant, in the middle of anger and frustration and likely yelling at his friends to just shut up, that they weren't helping... Job speaks truth.  And he quickly goes back into his rant, but for one short phrase... 

"Though He slay me, still I will hope in Him." (Job 13:15a)

For someone in the darkness of depression, for someone angry about her circumstances, for someone fearful for what medical tests will find in her child, fearful for what they won't find: answers... For someone nearly in despair that things will ever get better, that things will ever work out... 

That stopped me in the middle of my angry, hurt, trending towards bitterness steps. 

I latched onto that verse like a lifeline.  I memorized it, listened to this song over and over again. 

And I carried on, and God provided, and some things I'd despaired of did get better, and God blessed at times I didn't deserve it.  

And so Christmas season came and I watched this video. And I watched it again... and again... because I've struggled with hope.  I had felt like the flickering light of hope had gone out of my life... but it hadn't.  I'd had a choice... to refuse to hope, to say, "there's no way," "this is horrible," "God can't be in this."  Or... to say "I don't see it, but God..." "I can't imagine how this is going to be okay, but God..." "It stinks, but God..."  

And that was where I'd found and settled on the mystery.  The mystery of man's choice and God's sovereignty.

That somehow, God was absolutely, 100%, involved and in control of every single facet of my life, of my child's life.  That He'd been there in the midst of the DNA, He'd been in the offices where mistakes were made, He'd been in the operating room.  He'd been with me in that horrible rental house, He'd been there in the plumbing fiasco, He'd been there when I'd blown it financially.  He'd been there to provide... financial assistance, physical help, encouragement.

And at the same time, I could choose.  I had the responsibility to choose.  I had to choose, each day, if I was going to hope in God, or hope in myself.  I had to choose if I was going to bless the Lord or curse Him. I had to choose if I was going to become the person I desperately didn't want to be, or if I was going to be the woman I'd dreamed of being.

I've lived as a convenient Calvinist for years... but in the end, Scripture teaches that I am responsible for my choices.  For whether I get out of bed and serve my family or lay around and be lazy.  For whether I trust Him or worry.  For whether I obey Him or try to work things my own way. And Scripture teaches that He ordained every day of my life before I was ever born.  He chose some vessels for honor and some for dishonor. And it doesn't make sense, but I trust Him.  I don't have to understand.  I simply have to obey.

And so... the stump.  Whatever my stump is... Where my dreams didn't exactly work out. Montana. Chiari. ASD/SPD.  C-secs. Nursing school.  Family.  

In Jesus, there's more.  There's more than I can see.  

And so, there's hope. Always hope.  That God takes my stumps, my disappointments, my heartache, and forms something beautiful from them.  Whether I see it or not. Because He sees the big picture... the picture of all eternity. 

And He loves me.  And in that... there is hope. 

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