Got Hope?

It occurred to me this morning that the thing which keeps us all going is hope.

When we become hopeless, we feel empty and our life feels meaningless. When we are hopeful, we can endure the most painful circumstances because we believe there will be a brighter tomorrow.

I remember when I went through my divorce, after being married for ten years. While my relationship with my ex was not good, going through the finality of that divorce literally rocked my world. For a window of time, I didn't know how I would survive.

But through it all, I knew there was hope.

God is faithful, and several years later I found myself remarried, with three young children. Life was not what I pictured, and I struggled with my own inner demons of insecurity and abandonment, but we were making forward progress.

Then came a time when I went through the most painful thing I have yet experienced.

I was not blogging then, and I will not give details now, but to this day I struggle to describe the depths of the despair that I felt during that time. Nothing has been worse -- not even the death of my dad. As Proverbs 13:12 says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick."  I knew hope had not left me, but I wasn't sure how things could ever be okay again. I was drowning in my pain, and my heart was truly sick.

What heightened that despair was the critical and judgmental comments that I received from Christian friends. Praise God, He has miraculously (and I do not use the word miraculous lightly) healed that situation I was in. Even so, I still remember some of the hurtful words that were said to me when I was at my lowest point.

And yet, after suffering horribly through a terrible situation, and having it compounded by the painful -- albeit good intentioned?--comments of others, I have still offered words to hurting friends that have not been helpful.

Why do we do it? It all comes back to hope.

In the midst of the overwhelming pain and grief of others, maybe we use our words to others to affirm to ourselves that there IS hope in God, and that we CAN trust Him. Or maybe we fear the thing that someone else is going through, so we tell them to buck up their faith and stand firm in the midst. But, "Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar on soda, Is he who sings songs to a troubled heart," (Proverbs 25:20 NASB).

So if you've been in the trenches of life and come out stronger, then be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD.  But remember to be gentle with those who are struggling right now.