Permission to Hope Again
I’m the kind of person where sometimes I don’t understand exactly why my heart is feeling something until it explodes, out of my mouth, in word form. Anyone else relate? Well, a few weeks ago I was talking with Nathan and my heart issue I didn’t even know I had came out like word vomit…
“I don’t even want to pray for that anymore because I know that God is going to do what He wants anyways.'“
As soon as the words left my tongue I could taste their bitter remnants..
Tears welled up in the brim of my eyes. I knew I shouldn’t feel this way. I knew that scripture after scripture could pummel what I just said, but despite what I knew, my heart believed the opposite.
As I sat there tears now streaming down my flushed cheeks I began to realize that in this past year of hoping and not seeing any progress on my prayers I’d allowed disappointment to take root in my heart. I had let every unanswered prayer speak, “God doesn’t hear you.” rather than, “Not yet, my daughter”. With each hope crushed I’d allowed doubt that God even wants to answer my prayer to rise up.
And as I sat there pondering on all the gunk my heart just spewed out I realized that I’d allowed my disappointment to take precedence in my heart. I had gone into defense mode thinking if I don’t pray specifically then I can’t be disappointed. How can I be mad if I had nothing specific to hope in? I set my expectations low so they couldn’t be crushed, along with my heart.
Disappointed: “sad or displeased because someone or something has failed to fulfill one's hopes or expectations.”
You see I’m a naturally “glass half full” sort of girl. I have been since I came dancing and singing out of my mother’s womb. But somewhere between being too young to drive a motor vehicle without an adult passenger and too old to admit I’m scared during a sleepover, I learned to turn off my hope. Maybe it was the cheating boyfriends, or the best friends who at the drop of a hat became acquaintances, or the times I got told I wasn’t good enough to win gold in my dance competitions or to have the leading role in the musical, or maybe it was a snowball effect of all of those. I really don’t know, but all I know is when I came to Jesus I had a heart that hadn’t hoped in a very long time. I had it all reasoned out that if my hopes weren’t up then my expectations were always met and I was never disappointed, but I didn’t realize:
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” -Proverbs 13:12
When Jesus met me in my room when I was sixteen my heart was sicker than a dog, but He gave me my hope back. Day after day He showed me that with Him I didn’t need to be in defense mode; He was my defense. I knew I was safe when I was with Him. I knew I didn’t have to worry or fear or try to protect my heart; He was the sole protector of my heart. So I began to hope again.
But after years of letting God fight for me, something shifted this year. Somewhere between unanswered prayers and heartache I took back up my shield. I went back into defense mode.
I looked the Lion in the face and roared my sassy roar and it sounded something like, “You aren’t doing this correctly. You aren’t protecting my heart. Here give me that shield, I’ll just protect it myself…” (insert another bitter taste as those words rolled off my tongue. Probably even a foot stomp as my fists pounded down beside my hips.) The funny thing is He didn’t roar back. He didn’t walk away. He stood there still protecting, but silently. Any opportunity I’d let Him He swooped in to block the disappointing blows of the enemy, and the few the enemy actually landed He dressed so they would heal quickly and wouldn’t scar.
How crazy that I stopped hoping in Jesus because I felt like He wasn’t a safe place to put my heart? How perplexing that I chose not to put my trust in the One thing that has proven to never fail me? How dare I listen to the lies of the enemy over the sweet truths of my Father!
The next couple of weeks after this epiphany I had while talking to Nathan I began to realized this disappointment is where the lies of, “God doesn’t hear my prayers” and “God doesn’t care about me” were stemmed, but I also realized it was always accompanied by a resounding, “you’re going to be okay” from my Father.
Exactly what every child needs now and again. With every whisper from the Father my pain is being covered by healing oil; my fear is going away with one roar from the Lion. And in the storm I am hearing, “peace be still”. The wave about to engulf me shoots straight down like a summer rain fall leaving no wake behind, only a rainbow.
He has got you. He sees you. He knows you. He understands your disappointment and heartache. He is safe to trust. Put down your shield of self defense. You don’t need to fight now. You need to rest. You are not an orphan. You are wanted and loved and protected. You are safe. So pick up your hope and wear is proudly.
Sweet child, you have permission to hope again!