When you’ve experienced something truly terrible in life, like your child passing away, it changes you.
As time passes, and with God’s help, you might find yourself changed in many ways for the good. As for myself, I can see some good changes, but I see some bad changes as well. After my daughter died my faith increased, but so did my sense of entitlement. “God allowed this painful event in my life, so it better be smooth sailing from now on.” “I have met my suffering quota, and I shouldn’t have to hurt anymore.” “God was good and carried me through one terrible thing, and He wouldn’t dare allow me to experience something else like that.” I recognize that these thoughts are not accurate, they aren’t reflected in Scripture, and if I remove my “grass is greener” glasses, I can see that often these thoughts are not played out in the lives of others around me.
Life is just hard sometimes. Life is not fair. Bad things happen to good people. Bad things happen to Godly people. Marriages fall apart. Churches fall apart. People get fired. People get cancer. Car wrecks happen. People we love die. Injuries happen. Abuse happens. Loneliness happens. Words cut deep and feelings get hurt. Being a Christian doesn’t mean bad things hurt less. Being a Christian doesn’t mean bad news is any less confusing.
So what are we supposed to do when life gets hard? What I usually do is get mad, sad, bargain, ask for prayer, look for things that make me feel better, try to talk to people who make me feel better, talk to God, and then repeat all of these steps again and again. Honestly, most of the time when I cry out to God for answers, it seems like He doesn’t answer- or at least not in a way that I am expecting. When I ask Him to fix what I perceive as being very wrong in my life, He often times doesn’t. When I make what seem like valid “suggestions” to God on ways He could do things better, He still unfolds his own plan. Sometimes it can be maddening! So, what separates me from someone who doesn’t know Christ who is going through a hardship? HOPE.
HOPE is that teeny tiny word that can bring comfort when your daughter is being put in the ground- I have hope that I will spend eternity with her. HOPE is the teeny tiny feeling that can pass through you when the Doctor calls with more bad news- I have hope that God can use this pain for His glory. HOPE doesn’t mean it is all going to be okay on Earth- let’s face it, in some cases it is just not going to be okay. However, HOPE helps me remember in my darkest moments, that there are still moments of light ahead. Remember that phrase, “It’s not over until the fat lady sings?” Well, I like to think of HOPE as the fat lady, belting her heart out in heaven. I can’t hear her yet, but I’m gonna hear her one day. When I’m not sure I can make it, the old hymn proves true, “Strength for today, and bright HOPE for tomorrow.”
HOPE is what gets me out of bed some days, because it is hoping in the Lord that renews my strength. HOPE isn’t something I can muster up. It’s not a magic feeling, and it’s not a bandaid. HOPE is an anchor; a lifeline. Some days I am overwhelmed with HOPE, and some days I can barely feel it, but it is always there. When things are going great, you don’t always cling to hope, but when life gets hard, HOPE becomes like oxygen. My panicked, labored, hysterical breathing can all be done with HOPE.
Job 13:15 , “Though He slay me, I will HOPE in Him.” Romans 5:5, “And HOPE does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”