When Hope Feels Distant
"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul." Psalm 23:1-3a (NIV 1984)
The chair creaked as she shifted her weight. Its arms, too close for comfort, seemed to intentionally squeeze the pain right out of my clients who came to see me in the counseling center. And the same thing seemed to be happening to my friend who was visiting that day.
I watched her tears fall, hoping they would somehow lighten her heart's heavy load.
She'd been carrying the joy of what she thought was a new life on the way. But this was a hope to be deferred. It wasn't time, not yet. Not for quite a while.
And then one day she joined us at my home for dinner. We feasted on good news as we stood in the kitchen, arms and elation wrapped tight around each other. We cried again. This time, it was time.
I remember the day this much-anticipated baby was born; a day when life was squeezing the pain right out of me.
A decade's worth of waiting on the hopes of marriage had worn me thin. I feared I'd been left out of God's goodness. I shared my hurt with a friend on the way to the hospital. "You must believe He's faithful. He's good. Don't let the days slip by in fearful doubt, no matter how long this hope is deferred," she said.
That day I held onto my friend's words as I held that sweet baby, Sophie Brooke.
Her name means wisdom and peaceful waters. And aren't those lovely things for when the load is painful and hope is put on hold?
Wisdom whispers to our weary hearts, The Lord is my Shepherd. He leads me well as I journey through this pain. In Him, I won't miss out or be in want. It reminds us that our Shepherd is good and He has not left us.
And those peaceful waters? This is where the Lord leads us to restore our soul; to restore the hope we've lost in the waiting, in the valley of our pain. When weariness sets in, He invites us beside refreshing waters in His presence, to rest by and find a calm place to escape.
It's been four years since Sophie Brooke was born. In that time I've discovered that days pass by easier and hope seems attainable when I listen to my Shepherd, rather than my fearful doubts.
For every season and stage of life, I've realized God is there offering wisdom and peace and leading me back to hope.
And on those days when hope feels distant, seems nowhere to be found, I remember the words my friend gave me: "You must believe He's faithful. He's good. Don't let the days slip by in fearful doubt, no matter how long this hope is deferred."
Dear Lord, seems like life has squeezed the pain out of me and hope is nowhere to be found. I am at a loss for what to do. Please guide me to pray, seek and wait on You through this season. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Have you waited a long time on a dream? Does hope seem distant? Take a moment to listen to your Shepherd, rather than your fears.
Clear your mind of every racing thought and know that these words have been prayed for you: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Romans 15:13 NIV).
Isaiah 40:27-31, "Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God'? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (NIV 1984)