The other day, Jason asked me an unexpected question. He asked something along the lines of, “where do you see us in five years.” I wanted to dream with him but I found myself paralyzed. I just couldn’t do it, and I got increasingly sad the more we talked. Where we will be in the future should not be a depressing conversation, but it fills me with immeasurable sorrow. I’m fairly certain it has everything to do with my tenuous relationship with hope.
I can’t seem to let myself think about the future. All I see is my illness (physical and otherwise) and I can’t handle thinking that I may be this way for five more years. It’s too much. And no matter how many times you say I may not be sick for five more years, I will only argue back that there’s a chance I will. What if I were to believe that I could be better in five years, and then five years comes along but I’m not better? How could I possibly survive that kind of hope and heartbreak?
I’m not sure when I started losing my hope. It was there at first but I think once my bubble got pierced so many times, it started to leak out. The best way to describe myself right now is defeated. I believe that the opposition has won, but somehow I’m still walking around. So, that means it couldn’t really have won, right? I’m still in this fight.
Shortly after Jason and I had the conversation, 1 Chronicles 29 came up in my reading. I related so much to what David said in verse 15, “Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope.” I was pretty thankful to have someone backing me up on this until I remembered the things David said about hope in Psalms and it didn’t quite add up. “No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame” (Psalm 25:3a). “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long” (Psalm 25:4-5). His mention of our days being like a shadow reminded me of Psalm 23 where he talked about walking through the valley of the shadow of death… but then added the part about goodness and mercy following him all the days of his life. What gives, David? Make up your mind!
I started studying the context in 1 Chronicles 29 and I think I better understand what David meant. All the people had just given a massive amount of wealth and materials in preparation for building the temple. David knew everything that had just been given was provided by God in the first place. When he said “our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope”, he meant that on our own, we have nothing. The next thing he said was, “O Lord our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you” (verse 16). Without God, not only do we lack anything to give, but we also don’t even have the hope of anything to give. Our life is empty with no meaning. But with God, we can have hope that He will provide everything that is needed. We can have hope that our lives are worth something.
I feel completely defeated with nothing left to give. But what if I viewed my lack of hope like David did? What if I saw everything I have belonging to God anyway? My days may be filled with shadows that cover my hope, but as long as my hope is in God, I will not be defeated or put to shame. My life is not empty and meaningless. And though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I do not have to fear.
I’ve been mulling over a quote from one of the Hunger Games movies. President Snow was trying to squash the people’s hope because he knew that hope could be the quality that would overcome defeat and provide courage to rise up. He said, “Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine as long as it’s contained.” A little hope keeps us walking. A lot of hope gives us the strength to overcome defeat. A little hope gets me out of bed in the morning. A lot of hope helps me dream with my husband and walk toward those dreams unafraid. A little hope can come from a human perspective. A lot of hope comes from God’s provision of that hope. A little humanly hope easily disappears. A lot of godly hope builds up to victory. A little hope can keep us barely hanging on. Dangerous hope helps us pour out the blessings of God from deep within ourselves without fear of what it will cost us.
It’s my desire that somewhere in these fuzzy words is a message of hope. My brain is cloudy and I’m struggling to understand them myself, but maybe some day my hope will be bigger than my fear of it. Maybe I will have the courage to dream.
I haven’t written in awhile. Circumstances haven’t been the greatest. Even though the flu was miserable, the physical pain distracted me from the emotional pain so now I’m faced with it. I was then distracted by a wonderful week having Jason home with me during Fall Break, but he is back to work this week so I’m alone most of the time. I’m wrestling with whether or not I’m doing the right things, the things that may lead to my healing despite them creating a loss in my heart that I now have to grieve. I know that’s vague, but I guess what I’m getting at is the fact that sometimes healing means loss of some things in order to gain the right things. I do rejoice in just a few anxiety-free hours after an amazing chiropractic adjustment on Tuesday. It goes to show you how exhausted my body is from constant anxiety because I could have gone right to sleep. It was a blissful few hours during which I could breathe deeply without struggle, but sadly it didn’t last long. I need a chiropractor to just follow me around all day for free so, you know, if anyone has any such options… let me know.
I’m trying to cling to God. For so long I’ve clung to humans and that’s not fair to them or to me. Humans let me down. And somehow I got God so entangled with my beloved people that I’m struggling to sort Him out. That’s another post for another time, but I’ve asked Him to untangle Himself for me so that I can get my priorities in His order, not my own. I know that He needs to be more real and more worshiped than anyone else in my life. Maybe once He gets untangled from the mess I’ve spun around Him, I’ll be able to see the hope He provides more clearly. Amen. Let it be so.