Friday, March 3, 2017

joyful in hope

Before we had our second child, I had a miscarriage with some unusual medical complications that were unresolved for several months afterwards and resulted in an emergency surgery. When all of that was finally resolved, I knew I wanted to have another child but was afraid of more pregnancy complications. I was afraid to hope, which is often my temptation as I try to anticipate difficulties and somehow feel more in control when I am afraid. I have allowed myself to believe that if I can anticipate the worst thing that can happen, it may soften the blow a little and I'll be better prepared.

Shortly before what would have been the due date of the pregnancy that ended in miscarriage, I went on a women's retreat with women from our church. We stayed at a lovely place just outside of Dallas. The group I had come with spent a lot of time together during our down time, but I felt a need to slip away and have time alone as I pondered the teachings we had heard, prayed, and thought about everything in light of my grief and fear. I went on a walk and decided to go into a tiny chapel that was on the property. As I walked around the inside of the chapel, I saw a scripture that was hanging on the wall. It seemed to leap out of the frame at me:

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12

I was arrested by the first part, "Be joyful in hope." Hope is not foolishness, as I have at times allowed myself to believe. The Lord seemed to be giving me permission to let go of my fear and anxiety and to not only hope for another child, but to hope with joy. I have spent much of my life feeling afraid to get my hopes up for fear of disappointment. We are certainly told to expect adversity in this life (John 16:33), but believers do not have to grieve as the world grieves, without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). While we will certainly experience suffering on this earth, Jesus says that in Him (not in the world), we can have peace (John 16:33).

In seasons when life is particularly difficult and unpredictable, it can be easy to let hope slip through our fingers as cynicism, depression, and hopelessness take over. For me, one of the most difficult things about taking care of our high maintenance babies was how unpredictable everything was. I couldn't seem to get either of them on a schedule and never knew what triggered sleepless nights, which were frequent, and colic episodes, which were extremely stressful (with our first daughter). Feeding them was difficult and feeding schedules were unpredictable. My husband made the observation that when you have no routine or predictability, you have nothing to look forward to, no hope of relief, which is part of what made those seasons so difficult for me. My darkest, scariest moments in life have been when I have begun to lose hope for one reason or another.

Praise God that He is a God of hope, and a God who will fight for us when we are too weak to fight for ourselves! If we hold on to the hope we have in Him, we can be patient in affliction. Without hope, patience is difficult because we are no longer waiting for something good, but instead are simply drowning in despair. When we acknowledge the God of hope, who is ever-present with us whether or not we can feel it, everything changes. When I think about being "faithful in prayer" in this context, I can't think of a better way to pray than Romans 15:13:

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.

*Update: After I posted this, a friend who had been at the same retreat read my post and emailed me this picture of the chapel I mentioned. It's hard to see, but if you look on the right side of the photo, you can see the frame with the scripture I referenced.
 
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1 comments:

sno.girl said...

Love this Hope that you so beautifully describe.