Leaning Into Hope
While reading, listen to Prince of Peace by Hillsong United.
Our world, over the last several years, and perhaps even in the last several moments, has turned on its head.
From violence within our reach and across our oceans, to the fear felt in this nation's election, and to all the furthermost corners of pain in the world that we can’t even see...I have been overwhelmed. There are moments in life when the gravity of something knocks the air out of you, along with your ability to articulate why you even feel what you feel. What can be done? How do I live in my reality? Words like sad, heartbroken, confused…they just don’t seem to cover it, so my prayers have been a pretty jumbled mess of trying to find the right ones. I end up getting quiet and lean on what I know in my heart to be true…that God already knows. So I sit with that. God already knows. God sees. God is good. God understands. God has not forgotten his children. Those are difficult statements to say when stories of traumatized, war-wearied children are all over the news…and they are hard for others to remember when words like "doomed" are used and believed.
I’ve been thinking a lot about suffering…about the deep difficulties of life and where God is in all of it. I’ve decided that there are hard questions about God that may not have answers, but that they are worth asking anyway. They are worth wrestling through. And sometimes, all I can do is open up my Bible and bury my tears in stories of hopelessness turned redemption and suffering to strength. The stories of finding just enough courage to press into Yahweh…to trust Jesus in the midst of unanswered questions. Those stories do not always have perfect endings, and the people who walk them out do not always come out of the fire unscathed.
But what I do see…what does give me hope is that at the end of every story, on the other side of each trial - God is there.
He is still there. Not mocking us, not separate from us, but with us. Regardless of whether or not He allows things to be easy for me on this side of heaven, I know that on the other side, my price was paid. We have all been saved from the ultimate pain, the lasting hell. We have all been spoken for. God is there, and he considered us valuable enough for his own son to be murdered. That is a huge deal and there is real pain in the story of Jesus. There is violence, death, tragedy and moments of hopelessness felt. But that is not the end. Victory is how it ends.
My heart aches for those who are experiencing inexpressible pain here and across the world…and I do not have an easy answer or solution. I do not even know how to explain all that God does, allows, sees, whatever. Yet in the spiral of questions I stumble through, I come to this every time: either I trust God or I don’t. Either I have the courage to search for Him in suffering or I don’t. In the depths of my heart I want to search. More than weep, run or shout, I long to cling to God…no matter how many times I trip. No matter how many times I fail. Because the Jesus I know embraces anger, doubt, and questions. The Jesus I know loves us more than we could ever know, and we are so safe with him.
Whatever you may be walking through, I want to tenderly say, search. Trust. Hope. I know it’s hard, and I know the road feels long, but one of the most beautiful things about the Gospel and our lives is this: God is on this side of heaven, walking with us and he is on the other side, waiting for us.
To all who are learning, stumbling and trying - I am with you. God is our refuge friends, may we find shelter there.
Photo by Lena Bell