Stephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC
Hope... Is It Worth It?
“Hope postponed grieves the heart; but when a dream comes true, life is full and sweet.” Proverbs 13:12 (The Voice)
I think one of the hardest things about being a human in this broken world is waiting. I don’t do it well, and let’s be honest, neither do you. For whatever reason, it’s part of the human condition. We want what we want when we want it, and never consider that maybe, just maybe, there are reasons why some of our dreams and desires are so long in coming to fulfillment. Or why some never come to pass at all. We assume there is a glitch in the system – God is holding out on us. Something must be wrong when things don’t happen the way we think they should, so we get frustrated and our hearts grieve. Even harder than waiting is waiting with hope. Being frustrated and angry is easy, but believing against all odds that what you are dreaming of will come true at some point… that is difficult. So how do we wait well with a hopeful posture and not slip into the realm of a grieving heart? And if we can, is it worth it? There is a fine line between optimism and hope. Optimism at its best is wishful thinking but does little good when the waiting feels like it’s taking forever. No, optimism isn’t what we need. What is needed is a defiant hope. Defiant hope is the ability to look at whatever life is throwing at you and saying, “It is well with my soul.” It is a proclamation that the brokenness of this life doesn’t define who we are and that our circumstances will not dictate the posture of our hearts. This kind of hope does not come without a fight. This week alone life has screamed at me over and over again that hope is a fraud. Surgery has not cured the chronic pain that it was supposed to for a close friend of mine. A young woman I recently began getting to know overdosed and now her life is over. Many others I care about are questioning the love and care of God in their lives because of trauma, finances, and broken relationships… and it’s only Wednesday. Still, no matter what this life screams, there is a voice that is louder. I hear the words of my Savior in the midst of these very real and painful experiences saying, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). My Savior has not promised any of us an easy path through this life. If someone has led you to believe that, I’m sorry, for that is not a biblical notion. What my Savior has promised though is to be with us to the very end (Matt. 28:20), and that truth is what gives us the ability to live with a defiant hope. In the midst of all that has happened already this week, I am choosing to lean into my Savior and continue to believe that hope is a good and beautiful thing. I am choosing to believe, regardless of what these situations around me may be saying, that God is faithful and trustworthy. I am choosing to defiantly look to my Savior for hope and not at the outcome of the situations around me for my peace. One of the best ways I have found to cling to this belief in hope is to proclaim with my lips through song that I trust God even when life is hard. My go-to for this is Bethel’s rendition of “It Is Well.” If you have a moment, take a listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNqo4Un2uZI (“It Is Well” by Bethel Music) I’m not a singer, so it’s not pretty to listen to me sing, but when life is hard and overwhelming, I sing this song with all of my heart. Some days I sing it with joy. Other days I sing it with defiance, believing “it is well” even though life is saying otherwise. And let me tell you, God honors this kind of defiant hope by bringing his peace that surpasses all human understanding (Philippians 4:7) in the midst of painful trials. The peace found from defiant hope never comes from the outcome of our situations. It comes from the One who holds all of life’s situations in his trustworthy hands, and this kind of hope is definitely worth it. For Your Reflection… What is it that you long for so desperately that it literally grieves your heart as you wait? Where are you looking for your hope? Is it in the outcome of your situation or God? What would it look like for you to praise God in the midst of waiting?