Wednesday, September 30, 2015

HOPE in the Midst of Hopelessness

No one ever wakes up and decides that today is going to be the day they become filled with despair and bitterness, and I was no different. Actually, in the beginning all I wanted and hoped for was something wonderful and beautiful, in and of itself. I simply desired to become a mother, but as birthday after birthday continued to pass, I was reminded that my biological clock was ticking. I prayed, but it seemed as if God was silent. I frantically went from one doctor to the next, seeking answers—some form of hope—yet what I sought eluded me. Even when every alternative solution was explored, it seemed as if they were each blocked by insurmountable obstacles.

I unknowingly allowed myself to slowly sink into the depths of despair as I succumbed to the reality of utter defeat, readily embracing the anger that filled my soul, justifying my actions, reasoning within myself that none of this was fair—that God was mean and unloving toward me. I convinced myself that I was good and deserved something for all my past efforts. I became angry with God because I believed He was powerful, all-knowing, and in complete control yet He purposefully chose to withhold from me the desire of my heart. I willingly dove into a sea of bitterness clothed in self-pity, finding no comfort in the stories of HOPE within the pages of Scripture—Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, Elisabeth—because all those stories seemed to only mock me with their happy endings.

Like Peter, in the midst of the storm—in the worst possible moment—I decided to take my eyes off my Savior and began focusing on the tumultuous, dark waters that surrounded me. I focused my attention on others, wondering how so many women who were abusers and unloving could be granted what was withheld from me and how God would chose to open the wombs of so many who in turn sought abortions.

I allowed all the despair and bitterness to fester as the pain of infertility continued to linger stretching on for what seemed like an eternity, plummeting me further into the darkness I had so readily embraced. It affected every part of my life, draining my joy and stifling my spiritual growth. Outwardly, I kept up pretenses, but inwardly, I was ensnared and consumed by the very emotions I had so readily justified. My deepening depression, encased in hopelessness, grew to the point I wished for death, reasoning I had nothing left. I became despondent, sinking so low I tried convincing my husband to leave so he could have a life and children with someone else.

With no options left, I finally opted to pull myself up by my own bootstraps, making one last-ditch effort, trying to take control once again, bargaining with God, seeking to mend my relationship in hopes that He’d give me a child. Of course, He, unlike all those around me, knew my heart and wisely chose not to grant my desire; and it wasn’t long after that I reached my darkest hour when I realized I had no hope left—that my dream had been completely shattered—that I was absolutely powerless to change the realities of my infertility. So I, in my bitter state, summoned the courage necessary to verbalize the true blackened-state of my heart. I blatantly confessed, to my husband, that I was angry with God—that I was finished living a lie, pretending to be a devout Christian—that I was, once and for all, finished. It was within the midst of my denial that God, in all His mercy, saw fit to open my womb. Like Peter, in the midst of the hardest test of his life, I denied my Lord and Savior; and yet, He lovingly showed me there was still HOPE because when it feels as if all HOPE has been lost He alone is the source of perfect HOPE.

My journey back to Him has been long, painful, and heart-wrenching. Over time, He has used my circumstances, relationships, location, and even my two beautiful children to show me how truly wretched I am. It took God opening the eyes of my heart for me to become repentant enough to humble myself before Him. He took me back to the foot of the cross and reminded me of what I actually deserve—reminded me that I deserve nothing because I am nothing but a saved sinner who still needs a Savior. He reminded me of my purpose which has nothing to do with me attaining my dreams or seeking some form of happiness but has everything to do with me serving and glorifying Him. He reminded me of who He is and why I need to truly seek Him first and foremost—because I love Him and want a relationship with Him, not because I want something from Him. Because of Him and His love, grace, and mercy, I’m learning to willingly surrender my all to Him, not only my heart, soul, and desires but everything, even the things I find myself wanting most in this life. In letting go, I’ve learned that the indwelling light of His HOPE has filled me with a sense of love, joy, and peace that passes all understanding.

So . . . yes, I really do have HOPE; but I couldn’t just start out by stating this reality in the very beginning because I didn’t always understand that I’d always had perfect HOPE my entire Christian life—that hopelessness is nothing more than the manifestation of an emotional tool used by the father of lies. I wanted you to see this really wasn’t my story of HOPE at all but, instead, is God’s story of HOPE through me. I wanted you to understand that anything that appears to be good in my life is not present because of me but because of Him. I needed to let you see all that darkness so you could understand the essence and beauty of HOPE.

Because we’re continually being molded into the image of Christ and living in a world marred by sin, I can’t promise you that surrender is easy and that everything is going to work out the way you want because it’s not and it more than likely won’t. I can’t promise you that your life will be trouble and pain free if you seek God first because it won’t. I can’t tell you that whatever you desire the most will eventually be fulfilled because it may never be; but on the flip side, I can promise you that the victory has already been won—that you are not alone—that you are far from insignificant because you were loved just as you are before the foundation of the world was ever laid. I can tell you with complete assurance that there is HOPE, and in order to combat the feeling of hopelessness, you must let go of yourself and let God be your only HOPE. No matter your struggle, learn to ask Him to open the eyes of your heart and strive to have a personal relationship with Him—to delve into His Word, pray, and seek Him on a daily basis—so that you too can experience the perfection of the HOPE that already dwells within.

To those of you who may not be fellow believers, I know you long to be free from the clutches of hopelessness—but I want you to understand that, on your own, you will never be able to experience the kind of HOPE I described. The only way you can ever experience this kind of HOPE is by acknowledging that you too are a sinner in need of a Savior. Know that Christ loves you just as you are, gave Himself for you, and longs for you to accept His free gift of salvation.

The story of HOPE I shared has been my inspiration for writing. This is why I became an author—because of where I’ve been and what God has taught me through the darkness. He has graciously bestowed a passion within me to not only weave together stories that are entertaining, inspiring, and intriguing but that also resonate within the very souls of readers, mirroring real-life struggles and triumphs, reminding each of us who we can become when we surrender all and allow God to be our only HOPE.

If you’re in need of encouragement—of a glimpse of HOPE—please read the passage from Romans 8:12-39. A passage which I hold dear because it explains suffering and displays the manifestation of perfect HOPE.

I pray that you and I will live a victorious, HOPE-filled life, no matter the struggles and sufferings we may face, as we rest in the perfect HOPE that is found in Christ alone.

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