My HOPE posts have been few and far between the past couple of months. Clearly, I’ve been struggling with the topic. I always strive to be authentic in my posts. But sometimes the unpacking and processing of thoughts and emotions and even discouragement can take some time.
So here I am to admit it. I’ve not been myself. A number of things have had me downright discouraged over the past several months.
It’s not just one thing. It’s not even a couple of things. It’s a whole bunch of really big things. HUGE things. It’s not that I spilled coffee on my favorite blouse… it’s not that I didn’t get to go on an awesome girls’ weekend I was really hoping to go on… it’s not that I didn’t get to hear from one of my favorite authors / motivational speakers because I was holding out hope that something else would be happening that weekend… (although all of these things have happened too)… no, the discouragement comes from a much deeper, soul-wounding, heart-wrenching place.
The discouragement stems from everyday life to big ol’ dreams put on hold, from hurt friends to hurt feelings, from distractions to disconnection, from everyday struggles to deep soul struggles….
That amount of discouragement tires me. The mental war going on inside my head has me exhausted. And it is difficult to remain faithful in terms of keeping hope as my focus.
Admittedly, I know that’s exactly why “HOPE” was meant to be the word / focus of the year… no question about it.
I will not be sharing the nitty-gritty details of that discouragement or those situations in this public forum … but if we sat down for coffee I’d be happy to share those struggles with you, as well as the ebb and flow of the hope that tries to peek through. (TRIES being the operative work here.)
While I logically KNOW, in my mind, that God is sovereign and that His plan is always the best… still I am discouraged.
While I KNOW, in my mind, that His timing is perfect… still I am discouraged.
While I KNOW, in my mind, that I should not attempt to manipulate the circumstances to make things go the way I want them to… still I am discouraged and want to do just that.
And in my HEART I do know that God IS taking care of me. And that He IS watching out for my best interest. And that He IS managing all of the details behind the scenes. I KNOW He cares for those details and I KNOW His timing is perfect.
But my heart still aches. Aches so deeply it feels like it’s breaking. Sometimes the tears can’t even be forced … I struggle with this daily battle of focusing on HOPE…
And then my daily devotionals took me, once again, to Hebrews 11. Ahhh, yes… Hebrews 11. While the scripture itself focuses on examples of faith… the stories of faith give me HOPE. The stories shared in Hebrews 11 are my heroes on certain days. They had so much faith that they just kept pressing on… these heroes had the faith it took to continue on in HOPE in spite of the circumstances. May I take solace and find courage in their examples… and I share this today in HOPE that you do too….
A brief share… I have had the honor of co-leading an annual christian women’s retreat, held in October the past several years. And this past month we had a bit of a “situation” … a situation that caused a pivot in my life, from discouragement to hope.
As a team we hit our final date of registrations for retreat and called the conference center with our final head count. We had a contract to fill 60 beds but we oversold those expectations (which we do each year) and instead had 84 ladies joining us. Problem was… all of the other churches also oversold projections and the conference center was scrambling to find enough beds for all of us. The conference center communicated with us that they have NEVER had this problem before and that it appeared they only had 60 beds for us.
As I received this news from the other co-leader I laughed (and I had to apologize to her later for that)… literally, I laughed at the circumstances. Here is where the pivot moment took place: I said out loud – “I can’t wait to see what God does with this one. We’re praying for a major miracle folks.” We needed 24 more beds.
And in that moment I was even shocked at the hope that filled my discouraged heart. While I was slightly concerned that we should have a contingency plan in place – I was NOT scurrying about trying to implement whatever that plan needed to look like. We needed 24 bed. And I knew we needed to Be Still and Know that He is God. I needed to give God the time and place to do His God-thing. So, I sat back and expected great things! I expected God to show them 24 beds.
And great things He accomplished!!!
My co-leader received a return phone call from the conference center director the next day and he said (paraphrased)… ”I don’t know how to explain this. Well, actually, I do… it’s all God. We had counted and re-counted and I don’t know how we didn’t see this the first several times we counted… but we found 24 beds for your group.”
Not 23 beds… not 25 beds… but 24 beds. All 84 of our women were meant to be at retreat that weekend. Every.last.one.of.them.
Period. God is good! And I laughed again. Of course He is!
Here is the Ephesians 3:20-21 verse from ‘The Message’ translation:
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!