January 24, 2022

Hope that Pierces Darkness

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

— 1 Peter 3:15

The last month has been a hard one. I can’t sugar coat it. Our family has gone through illness, loss, and yet more illness, including a difficult diagnosis that we are powerless to change. Maybe you’ve walked through seasons like this. Perhaps you’re going through something similar right now.

These are the moments when we learn the value of surrender—not only the value, but the necessity. I simply can’t carry this burden myself. It’s too much. At one point in my life, I would have tried to make it all right, but that effort to control circumstances would have consumed me. I’m honestly grateful for the struggles I’ve gone through in the past that have taught me to let go in this present moment. This act of surrender is keeping me from drowning.

As I reflect on everything going on around me, I recognize it is possible to simultaneously experience sadness and joy, grief and hope, turmoil and peace. The sadness, grief, and turmoil are very natural human responses to painful circumstances. But the joy, hope, and peace? No, those can be nothing other than supernatural. To experience joy, hope, and peace in such circumstances is illogical. This is how I know that God is with me on this path, pouring into me from his very nature.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying God has stepped in and made everything rosy. Rather, he is allowing me to experience the paradox of living in a broken world while knowing I belong to him—to have the privilege of being imbued with his love and dwelling in his peace, in spite of present circumstances.

Proverbs 13:12 tells us:

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Most of us have probably experienced the heartbreak of dashed hope. Truly, such experiences can be crushing. But perhaps some of our unrealized hopes were merely wishful thinking. And yet, the longings we experience for that which is true and beautiful flow from the source of all hope. This is a hope that can never be destroyed, a hope we are invited to enter now—a tree of life that never fails to bear fruit. Jesus himself is our living hope! (1 Peter 1:3)

The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from…

— CS Lewis, Till We Have Faces

Even while, in many respects, we exist in a state of longing while on this earth, we must not think of God’s kingdom as something we are separated from in this life. The door is open if we will but recognize it. His kingdom is not some future reward for our obedience here on earth. Let me say this another way: The goodness and comfort of the One who is love is available now, even in the midst of our pain and struggle.

Recently, God showed me that standing on the threshold, feeling stuck between life and death, hope and despair, is both normal and necessary. God himself hung in that place on the cross. The cross was a painful, liminal place that functioned as a threshold for the release of God’s glory. As we encounter pain and suffering, we too can know that God will use it for his glory.

This is my invitation to you today:

Will you walk through the door of your heart’s longing? Will you surrender the burden you weren’t created to carry and allow your loving Father to give you his perspective on all that is weighing you down? Beloved, allow yourself to experience the paradox of peace within pain.

This is the place where I’m sitting today—knowing I can’t fix what is happening, but trusting that Love is at work in all I surrender to him. If you are walking a similar path, please sit with me and wait for his beauty to unfold. Yes, the wait can be hard. Our hearts will ache in the process. But the sweetness of his love is worth it all.


Rest for the Weary: Finding Freedom from Fear in the Heart of the Father

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