What I Could Not Envision
Sitting there with our youngest last night for his birthday dinner made me think back to 5 years earlier. We were not with him for his 18th birthday. He celebrated it in another state, apart from family and friends. It was 2013 and the hardest year we had ever had.
We were suffering immensely…… with fear, dread, heartache, but worse than anything- hopelessness.
Our youngest had been in rebellion for 3 years and we feared for his life and future. We had taken the drastic measure of sending him out of state for his senior year to a Christian, military boarding school. It was the last straw we were desperately trying to avoid at all costs. It had left us broken as we parted from our precious opportunity to enjoy our youngest at home after his older brother and sister had moved out.
This was not what we expected our life to be as parents. No church sermon had prepared us for the twists and turns such as this. It was just beyond us to process how we could have ended up in this situation.
Compounding this trauma was another heartache with our oldest. He was going through terrible disappointment and challenges after he moved out to begin his career in another city. The struggles had mounted for years (too many to detail for this post) from his learning disabilities and we wondered how he would do on his own. Would he be able to succeed independently? Were the struggles of the last 18 years since his diagnosis behind us or were they just beginning?
In August of 2013, the days after we had been forced to enroll our youngest in military school, we learned that our oldest had lost the job he thought he had been succeeding in when his employer hired an older man with more experience. He called us devastated over the news. It was like the last 18 years had been leading up to this monumental fear coming true. He spent the next months looking for a job in his trade career with no success. Eventually, he moved back home, broken over all that had not worked out.
In both of these situations, we were at a complete loss. We had no more ideas. No more options. Nothing. In a word, hopeless.
We did not have the ability to perceive what could help or how God could work either circumstance for good. In our minds, the likelihood of solutions were zero. And yet, here we are just 5 short years later and the difference is nothing short of miraculous.
What I Learned From Our Hopelessness
As I look at what God brought about in each son’s circumstance, I could not have envisioned it. It was beyond me to comprehend how God could bring order out of chaos and purpose out of pain. In reality, He brought hope out of hopeless situations. It is exactly what I see happen to a beggar in Acts 3:1-12 NIV .
This crippled man from birth had been begging for years and years. He had no hope of life any different. All he could dream of was receiving enough handouts to continue existing pitifully. One coin at a time to make it through the day until he begged again for someone else to take pity upon him. As Peter and John approached, instead of giving him what he needed to continue life as he knew it, they gave him what he didn’t even have the hope to ask for- healing.Our hope is not based on our reality but God's ability. Therefore the options are limitless. Click To Tweet
Praise God that our lives are not determined by our highest dreams! What we cannot fathom could happen, God gives it lavishly and then uses it to impact others. There was a great commotion from the crippled man being healed, which resulted in more than HIS life being changed that day. Five thousand people were radically saved as described in Acts 4:1-4 NIV.
Between my own desperate circumstances and this passage of Scripture, there are several lessons that have changed the way I process life now for myself and our family.
Hope means that ……….
- I don’t have to be able to find the solution to problems. God is able to determine what will help the most in dire circumstances. There is NO impossibility God cannot work out for His glory and my good.
- God wants more than a momentary solution or provision. His plan is for my transformation. He will grant what I don’t even have the imagination or hope to ask for because He is after my eternal well-being. Before He changes my circumstances, He will change me. This fortifies me for all my future challenges.
- What concerns me also concerns the Savior who died for me. He will not forsake me in my need. He is trustworthy and compassionate over that which troubles me. I am surrounded by His love and faithfulness.
- God has a glorious purpose for each of us that I could not imagine if I tried. I am too limited by my own deficiencies to fully grasp God’s potential plans but I can rest assured He is perfectly in control of them and fully able to implement them. Thankfully, He thinks outside the box, coming up with far greater ideas that I think plausible. I want what He wants for each of us, nothing more and nothing less.
- No suffering will triumph over me/us. Either God will get me through it or He will take me home. No matter how bad it may get, there are limits to what I will need to endure.
- I may not know what my future holds but I know who is there waiting for me with all the support I will need. I need not fear tomorrow.
- Those I hold dear are not my responsibility. They are God’s. If they are less than what they should be then that is His area to attend to and not mine. Just as my sanctification is His responsibility, so is theirs. He is their burden-bearer, not me. I am gladly not “in charge” of me or anyone else.
- God will root out what does not serve each of us well. No personal or generational pattern will be left untouched because He desires our freedom and holiness. His refining process continues all the days of our lives. I can trust His attention and persistence.
- Though prayer needs abound or linger, I can be sure that He is far busier with the “unseen” than what I can see Him doing. His unfailing love keeps Him attentive to each and every concern whether I am aware of it or not.
- This life is not what I/we are living for, it is eternity. Our best life will never be this side of heaven. Every single hardship will pale in comparison to what He has in store for us one day.
I have seen how God brings hope out of “hopeless” situations. In a span of 5 years, God has done a work for each of my sons that is beyond what I had the mind to conceive. And this has changed how I process suffering forevermore.
However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
the things God has prepared for those who love him— 1 Cor.2:9
So you see, whenever I feel fear or heartache, or if there is a sudden concern that rears its ugly head, I process those moments through the hope that permeates life in Christ. Just as the Bible affects how I process life, hope does so as well. God has fundamentally changed me and dare I say, it was worth every agonizing moment I experienced as a mother. The hope I live with each day still blesses me beyond measure and it can for you too. You can trust God’s heart and timing with you.
Hope says, “God’s got this AND God has me.” Let the peace flow!!
Phil Wickham’s beautiful song of Living Hope. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.