THE HARDEST PART OF HOPE

We’re moving soon.  My husband, Paul, is already in St. Louis where he has started a new job.  I have remained behind to organize our relocation from Georgia and to sell our house.  So far, I’ve sorted through nearly all of our rooms, making decisions about what to take with us and what to donate to charity.  “All” that is left consists of a guest bedroom, my office, the garage, and the basement (oh, the basement…who knows what lies hidden in that glorious mess we call “storage”).  I’ve interviewed realtors and have hired one, and have gathered estimates from moving companies.  I have walked through the house with a handyman, listing all of the little things (and some big things) that we plan to repair and/or update before listing our house for sale.  I’ve priced ovens since we have decided to replace the current one, so that our kitchen will be more attractive to potential buyers.  There’s still a lot to do, but I’m making progress.

Six months ago, a move was not even on our radar screen.  We were actively pursuing becoming licensed to provide foster care in our home.  The story as to how that came to be will have to wait for another time, but suffice it to say, we were excited and filled with joy that after so many years, we were finally close to having children in our home.  In the blink of an eye, our plans changed.  Paul’s job was gone (eliminated without warning, following a company-wide reduction in force).  After several months of job searching, he was contacted by a recruiter asking if he was interested in being considered for a position in St. Louis.  In less than a month, he had interviewed, been hired, and had started his new job.

As I’ve been going room to room getting ready to move, I’ve had a lot of time to ponder.  This is not the first house we’ve purchased with the hope that it would be a home to children.  I am once again packing up rooms that I had long envisioned as filled with the evidence of young ones finding safety and security within their walls.  I’m not gonna lie.  I’m sad and disappointed about this.  In my head, I know that we can again pursue becoming foster parents when we are settled in St. Louis.  In my heart, though…whew.  The thought of having to wait again is, well, it’s just plain hard.  My arms feel emptier than ever, and my spirit is bruised.

Waiting is the hardest part of hope.

A friend posted this statement on Facebook a few weeks ago.  It struck a chord with me, and I’ve been thinking about it as I say the long goodbye to the dreams I had for our home here in Georgia.  A little Googling led me to its author, Lewis Smedes (1921-2002).  Smedes was a Christian theologian who penned a book called Standing on the Promises, published in 1998.  In it, he wrote:

Waiting is our destiny as creatures who cannot by themselves bring about what they hope for.  We wait in the darkness for a flame we cannot light.  We wait in fear for a happy ending we cannot write.  We wait for a not yet that feels like a not ever.  Waiting is the hardest part of hope.

I read those words and my heart says, “Yes.”  I read them and my heart says, “I still have hope, but how do I survive the waiting?”  And there are times when my heart  says, “I can’t. I can’t continue to be hopeful because being hopeful means being vulnerable, and oh, I cannot even go there. I cannot continue to live in that raw place. It just hurts too much.”

But His Spirit whispers to my spirit, “Yes. Yes, you can. You can continue to live in hope.” And my spirit whispers back, “How?” And His Spirit answers me, not with empty promises of wish fulfillment, but with Truth:

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him.  Psalm 62:5

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him.  Lamentations 3:25

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope.  Psalm 130:5 

…and I begin to understand that my empty arms ache not only for children, but even more for the assurance that my life has meaning, and that I can only find the assurance that satisfies this deepest desire by remaining steadfast in the Truth found in God’s word…

 I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.  Jeremiah 31:3

I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born.  Isaiah 66:9a

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.  Jeremiah 1:5a

Our lives have meaning, have purpose, and represent divine appointments not only because of who we are, but because of whose we are.

 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.     Hebrews 12:1-2

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.     John 3:16-17 

Each of our lives was bought and paid for on the cross by Jesus, who endured shame, and pain, and scorn to remove the dross that tarnished our purpose in the story of Creation. In place of that dross, God has placed our freedom.

 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves by burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  Galatians 5:1

This is what makes it possible for me to move past the hurt and disappointment and frustration of waiting. Those emotions are real, they are genuine, and I acknowledge them as such…but I refuse to allow them to dishonestly color the Truth…that I am known intimately and specifically by God, that He has given me a life of divine purpose and meaning, and that nothing I desire, even that which is good, compares with Him.

 Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  Psalm 73:25-26

I will have moments when I falter, when it seems that I cannot continue to wait in hope, but God asks me to trust Him, to turn to the Truth for comfort, and to be assured by that Truth because I am His.

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2 thoughts on “THE HARDEST PART OF HOPE

  1. Amy says:

    Yes, it was Lewis Medes. In fact, I think our pastor has used the entire passage you found!

    Beautifully written, Julie, and hope is a beautiful thing as it draws us closer to the provider of hope.

    Keeping you in my prayers as you and Paul continue the transition to St. Louis. Can we do anything for Paul while he is here and you are there?

    Liked by 1 person

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