I sit here writing at shortly after 5:00 am not because I am so motivated or self-disciplined. I have been awake on and off...mostly on...since two-something with body-possessing chills and a fever. It's not ideal the ideal set-up for a delightful romp around my blog with seven followers (I will count myself in that total, thank you very much). No, it's not the best timing for a musing or a puzzling. Nor is it the best timing for God to whisper in your ear, "Arise. Get out of bed. And write." Seriously, God? But, God and I had a good long discussion and barter session about it since somewhere in the "threes". This was what I needed to do and every "I will if..." that I could invent was answered. So, you, whoever "you" are, needed to hear this right now.
You see, I've been pondering hope a lot over the past few weeks. Do you ever feel like it just isn't there? For all your willpower and exertion, it just refuses to bubble up to the surface. You feel hopeLESS. hopeDEMOLISHED. hopeSHATTERED. You're exhausted and sick. Your house is being invaded by ants and moths. Your hot water heater decides to break, along with a couple nice electronics. Your loved one suffers with chronic disease. His contract for work is about to end. And even your answers to prayer seem to be simply a cat-and-mouse game with God. He answers every little detail of a specific request you have been praying for over a period of years and then seems to say, "Oops. Never mind."
Am I forgetting something? In reality, I have really been okay with all the life set-backs...up until the game of cat-and-mouse. I honestly feel like it is impossible for me to understand that one. It was not asked "amiss" and we have patiently waited a long time.
Yet, here we go back to that idea of self-discipline and motivation, something that I struggle horribly with in nearly every aspect of my life. Isn't that the crux of things? Let me explain. First of all, is hope a feeling? I mean, yes, we feel hopeful. But why? And if it's just a feeling, what about all the people who seemingly feel it when they have absolutely no reason in the world to? Those who are completely unflappable in the face of discouragement and disappointment far worse than what I am personally facing right now? Let's look at some verses and maybe we'll uncover this "secret":
Romans 8:24-25 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 5:2-5 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
So we see that hope may indeed be a feeling, but that feeling is within our reach and control, with God's abiding grace, of course. It starts with a choice. It starts with the self-discipline to quit wallowing and instead grab...scratching and clawing if need be...onto the truth of God's unfailing LOVE and the belief that He is doing a good work in us, whether we understand it or not. No one feels like rejoicing over any of life's tragedies, whether they be small or enormous. But if we know that in the end they will produce not only endurance and character, but ultimately a comforting hope that surpasses human comprehension, wouldn't it be wise to choose to rejoice? And maybe it will have to start with simple acceptance and a "thank you" that feels unnatural and even wrong at times.
So, do we believe that he loves us? Do we believe that all these bumps and even gorges in the road are put there by Him for our good? And if we say we believe it, do we have the hope to back it up...to prove what we claim?
Let's lift each other up in prayer that we will persevere in what we know so that we may experience a hope that baffles the world and can only be explained by God.