When Hurt Robs Us of Hope
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13 (NIV)
How could this be happening? She had given up so much to be with him and now this?
My friend had left her very successful career and friends in Louisiana, uprooted her three kids and moved to North Carolina to get married and live in her new husband's hometown. And now, six years later, she answered the phone and was shocked by the confession of a woman who called to tell her that she'd been having an affair with my friend's second husband—for the past four years.
I held her as she sobbed. And I listened as she questioned everything about her husband. Every business trip, every late night at the office, everything she thought was true that was now laced with deceit.
Something in my soul cracked that day, and every bit of hope I ever had that I would one day get married... it was gone. I swore that I would never, ever trust a man.
Has there ever been a time when pain from your yesterdays or disappointments in your todays has stolen your hope? When you have been wounded, the risk of getting hurt again seems more costly, and perhaps even more likely, doesn't it?
The things that hurt us are as varied as the lies we believe because of them:
• Like my friend who was sexually abused by a neighbor when she was eight years old. Shame convinced her she would always be dirty and worthless.
• Like my friend who was raped at knifepoint by a masked stranger the week of her college graduation. Fear held her for years in a personal prison, telling her she'd never be free.
• Like my friend who was married and divorced multiple times. Condemnation convinced her she'd never be good enough for a man or God.
• Like a woman I know whose mother called her names and criticized everything she did. Humiliation holds her hostage, convincing her she'll always be useless.
• Like my friend who had an abortion when she was a teenager. Paralyzing grief and disgrace convinced her God could never use her in ministry.
• Like my friend whose son is in prison awaiting trial as a sex offender. False blame keeps her up at night, convincing her she must have done something wrong as a mom.
The pain of our past makes it hard to believe God's promise of hope for our future. It's easy to lose confidence in Him, in other people and especially in ourselves.
Yet hope comes when we allow Jesus to search our hearts and bring Truth into our wounded places. Today's key verse reminds us that He wants us to "trust in Him, so that [we will] overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 15:13). And the only way that can happen is if we let Jesus pour His healing power into our lives, allowing His love to flow into our pain and cleanse the wounds from our past.
I watched my friend's heart break into pieces in the following months, as her future and her marriage were shattered by the lies. But I also watched her come to know God and fully rely on His love for her, over time.
I learned to trust and hope again, too. And I made a new vow—I promised myself and God that I would not allow the pain of my past to determine my future any more.
We don't have to allow our hurts to steal our hope. Instead we can ask Jesus to help us trust Him more through them. Let's ask Him to show us what is true about who we are and what we have been through that caused us to start losing hope. And then we can ask Him to help us redefine our future — not through the filter of our past and our pain, but through the power of His hope-resurrecting promises.
Dear Lord, You are good and have good plans for me. But sometimes, people and circumstances rob me of that truth and cast a shadow on Your goodness. Please restore my trust and hope in You. I'm leaning on all You are. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Is there an area of your past that is holding you back from trusting God? Sit and listen for His truth and good plans for you today.
Ephesians 1:18-19a, "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe." (NIV)
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