When Hope Hurts

artem-kovalev-86365-unsplashOur bird mamma is back. Penelope- the one that’s decided our rotting patio cover is the perfect place to build her nest. I love this crazy, determined, cutie-pie bird.

The irony is not lost on me. I feel like I’m observing a bird version of myself. All the hopes of my heart to adopt over the past five years seem overshadowed by the decay that surrounds them. Five years of broken expectations. Four failed adoptions —  one international, three domestic — chipping away at the strength of my spirit.

But here I sit, day after day, choosing to knit my nest together with God’s promises, while everything around me threatens to cave in.

What is your my nesting egg? The desire of your heart that you believe God planted? Have you asked God to remove it if it’s not his will? I have. Over and over. Yet it remains. And even when the lies of the enemy are crudely constructed, attempting to cover up the promise that God’s plans are to prosper me and not to harm me (Jeremiah 29:11a), His truth still is not obstructed. I can still feel it. Besides, “hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:24b–25 ESV).

I may have to grope clumsily in the darkness for a season, but it’s there. Because God is eternal and God is hope.

What is eternal cannot be extinguished.

Did you know the biblical word for hope, tiqvah, literally translates to cord, hope, and expectation? It’s used in the story of Rahab. She’s instructed to tie a scarlet cord (tiqvah, hope) in her window to remain unharmed. (Joshua 2:18). Hope protects us. It’s a holy signal to the enemy that he can’t touch us. It’s the scarlet cord we unabashedly display over our doorframe that cries out, “I belong to King Jesus!”

Grasping it like a rope, I’ve tried to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23 ESV). I still struggle, asking God, Why are you making us wait so long for the desires of our heart?!

In all transparency, my hands have grown weary and calloused from clinging to the rope for so long.  It hurts. My hopeful waiting has been seasoned with suffering. But isn’t this part of the blessing? Callouses give us the ability to endure situations that would naturally tear our hearts wide open. It takes time and endurance for callouses to form.

In high school, I cursed the callouses that formed while trying to learn to play the guitar. However, the first time my fingertips were tough enough to press on the strings to play a worship song, I was flooded with understanding. The momentary discomfort I’d endured made it possible for me to sing a new song of praise. I don’t know all the reasons we’re asked to wait. However, I do know there is a perfectly holy reason for every situation. We are called to hope (Ephesians 4:4), and that means we are called to wait. Not just to wait but also to look.

In fact, the Hebrew root of the word hope is ka-va, meaning to wait, to look for. Faith-filled hope is active. When I find myself wrestling with discouragement, I’m really wrestling with my passivity.  Hope requires that we’re eager watchmen on the tower of our days, scanning the valley for signs of life. Just like Penelope, who is oblivious to the rot around her because her eyes are on the tiny, yet wildly adored, promise beneath her. She waits. She watches.

She constantly tends to the hope among the decay. Sweet Jesus, teach me to do this!

The idea of becoming foster parents was like realizing there was another egg in the nest we’d never noticed! It’s only through the sustaining grip of God’s love that we kept diligent watch over the ragged nest perched in our hearts. I praise God for the gift of hope. I thank Him for reminding me that hope is my protection, my courage, my confidence, my calling, and my strength! I raise my hands in praise, calloused as they are from clinging to hope, to the one that gives life to His promises.

But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NIV)

God’s word is always the best source of encouragement! Click here for a beautiful printout of verses celebrating hope in Jesus:God’s Word-Marked by Love-Hope

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No Surprise


“You will keep him in perfect peace,

Whose mind is stayed on You,

Because he trusts in You.”
 
Isaiah 26:3 


I’m sorry to say, but due to the ever-changing conditions in Ghana, the chances of bringing home an orphan anytime soon, are not looking good…

     Our social worker has such a sweet spirit, but her words were just too bitter to swallow this time. We sat on our couch and completed our Home Study update. It was hard not to think: What’s the point? We aren’t getting matched with our child soon…if ever. Having been in the international adoption process for three years now, I know better than to beat my brain with questions I will never have the answers to. Most importantly, I know not to challenge God in his wisdom. A part of me sunk when our social worker explained that a new person in power was holding all child cases back from being dispensed to waiting families. But one thing I heard above my clattering thoughts: 

Daughter, this is no surprise to me.

This was no surprise to God.

This was no surprise to God.

This was no surprise to God.

The ‘me’ two years ago, would’ve written a seemingly justified letter:

Dear God,

   DON’T YOU KNOW…

Conditions in Africa for orphans are bleak? Politics and pride are coming before the needs of children?  There are over 1 million orphans in Ghana?   We have been on the wait list for over a year now? 

All we want to do is your kingdom work…(Just in case you forgot).  

Love,

      A concerned citizen of the kingdom of God 

But not this time. Sometimes God gives us a little glimpse of how he has grown us. This was one of those gracious moments. Just the soft whisper in my spirit, ‘Daughter, this is no surprise to me’, was like an anointing of peace. It has been months since this conversation, and the peace hasn’t left me. In fact, he has allowed it to echo through my heart as new challenges have risen up. It feels like a crown he has placed on my head. It is not going anywhere. I am so in awe of this sweet gift. Peace in knowing, God is not surprised by anything, is a valuable shield against the enemy. God loves me. All his plans are for my good. All of his plans are to bring more people into his salvation kingdom. Not some of them, not most of them…ALL of them.

Every. Single. Detail. Every delay, every hitch in paperwork, every ‘roadblock’, every signature, every blessing, every trial, every person I speak to…he will use in my life for his good purposes. He will use it all to bring glory to his name. He will use it to shout of his love for the lost. Period. This is true whether I believe it or not.  

I believe it. I welcome it. I stand on it.

It is important that we read God’s word. It is imperative that we live it in our everyday circumstances.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
 
Romans 8:28 

New…or just glued?

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My New Year’s Resolution is allow myself to be new…not glued.  Sometimes, I imagine picking up the broken pieces of my life, and clumsily offering them up to God. I then imagine that he will piece them back together, making something beautiful. Well, almost beautiful. If it weren’t for all those cracks showing through the ‘glued me’…I would be stunning. Although I imagine God has put me back into some sort of functioning vase, you can still see the jagged pottery bits trying to cling gracefully together. I imagine, one little wisp of wind will send the ‘glued me’ crashing to the ground. I will shatter all over again.

But this is how I view myself. This is not how God sees me. I am not the product of a clumsy repair job. This is the nasty lie of the enemy.

We must remember what the word of God says. If we have Jesus, we are a new creation:

” Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come’. -2 Corinthians 5:17

The new has come. It does not say, “If anyone is in Christ, he will put them back together’. Don’t get me wrong. Jesus wants all of our broken pieces. He wants us to recognize the mess on the floor and lay our shards at his feet. But this is not so he can piece them back together. He takes the bits and pieces and exchanges them for something entirely new.,

He wants to exchange our brokenness with His fullness.

Truth is, I do not want broken pieces to be a part of my life’s fabric anymore. If they are, then I am not fully a vessel of Christ. I want my heart to echo John the Baptist,
He must become greater; I must become less”( John 3:30 ).

Sometimes we like to romanticize our past hurts and mistakes. We like to think they contribute to ‘who’ we think we are. In reality, our focus should not be on WHO we are, but on WHOSE we are.

Our past decisions and experiences do not define us anymore if we are children of God. Our Father defines us. Our salvation defines us.

In Isaiah 43:18-19, God encourages his people, ““Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”

God wants to do a new thing in us. Are we too focused on the things of the past to perceive it? Are we so focused on the repaired vase on the shelf, that we miss the brilliant new one being offered to us?

A repaired life is not a bad thing. Satan would have us happily sit in this complacent truth. He assures us, ‘Repaired is enough, it is more than you deserve‘. It is true. A repaired life is more than what we deserve. But who are we to be so bold, to dash and diminish the work of the cross?! And even more so, belittle the power of the resurrection?!

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” –Romans 6:4

We will never understand the self sacrificing, all consuming love of our Savior. We can at least understand, the foolishness of clinging to a repaired life, instead of passionately grasping a hold of a new life. A new life that our Jesus died and rose from the dead in order to pour over us. My prayer this year, is that I accept his beautifully gracious gift of a new life everyday. Everyday I want to wake up and pray, ‘Jesus,p today, make me new’.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

 

My God: Father

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God sent his son, so I could be his daughter. I have no problem accepting that I am God’s child. This knowledge has wrapped me up in safety and peace my whole life. I belong to God.

I was reading over The Lord’s Prayer this week. It begins with, Our Father. For the first time I realized, I never began my prayers by acknowledging God was my Father. Always, my prayers have begun with Dear Lord or Dear God. Never did I pray, Dear Father. I felt God challenging me to pray this way for the first time.

That shouldn’t be hard God, no biggie!

But it was.

I couldn’t do it. It didn’t seem right to me. It almost felt disrespectful. He is my Holy God; He is the maker of all things. I felt like I couldn’t begin my prayer with such an earthy name as Father. I have an amazing earthly Father. I didn’t need to extend the term upwards to heaven. I was all good in the Daddy department.

God really went after me over this issue. This week in bible study, it referenced Romans 8:15:

‘…the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry,

“Abba, Father.”

This is what was happening. God’s spirit was relentlessly after me to testify that I should be crying out, Abba, Father’.

Abba is a very personal Hebrew term for Father. It literally means Daddy or Papa. This is what Jesus cries out as he falls to the ground in prayer in the book of Mark:

“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you.’

Then we go to Galatians, and again:

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ”Abba, Father”.

Why was I pressing down the spirit that wanted to call out Abba? Why was it so hard for me to call God my Daddy, my Papa?

God wants extreme intimacy with us. By calling him my Daddy, we must acknowledge God wants more of our trust.

God was casting his net a little further into my heart. He was showing me that there are parts of myself I haven’t trusted him with. I struggle a lot with this.

It is hard not to view intimacy through the eyes of my experiences here on earth. If I let someone in just a little too far, it can result in a lot of hurtful disappointment. But God isn’t someone…He is God.

God does not fail us. He finds us.

Wherever we wander, He is always our Father. If my child was lost, or struggling; I would pour every resource I had into finding them and restoring them. But my resources are limited.

God, with his unlimited resources, is pursuing me. He finds me over and over again. He is never failing.

He will never grow tired of pulling me in closer. He will never grow too old to bend down and look me in the eye. He will never be weak and unable to carry me on his shoulders. He will never be too busy to lift up my chin and ask me what is wrong.

He will never lack wisdom to point me in the way I should go. And every time, He will go with me. Every time, He will hold my hand.  He will never look away when I am attacked; He will go before me and fight. He will always win.

He will never be too poor to feed me. His love will never dry up and leave me aching for acceptance. He will never lose his voice; He will sing and shout and whisper words of love to me. He will never be sick and unable to run the race with me.

He will never be ashamed of me. I am his workmanship.

He will never leave me without shelter. He bled on two pieces of wood so he could build his dwelling in me. He will never go blind, unable to see that I have tripped and scraped up a part of my heart. He sees me.

My Daddy sees me. Every time.

My Daddy answers me. In His time.

My Daddy holds me. All the time.

My Father loves me. From Heaven, to the cross, and back again.

My Father is not just someone. He is God.