The reading for Day 4 and the audio teaching that accompanied it filled my heart with so many different thoughts and feelings that I find it hard to harness them into one main theme for today’s post. (Maybe I will do Day 4 part I and part II…I will decide when I get to the end!) This is because sometimes his audio teachings go deeper and in a slightly different direction than the reading for the corresponding day. The reading is about the truth from Ecclesiastes 3:11 that says, “…God planted eternity in our hearts,” and so there is more to life than the here and now. I learned much about this truth after Michael died, having been forced to face death and the idea of eternity face to face. The audio goes into a deep teaching on hope and where to find it. As peace goes hand in hand with purpose, hope gives fuel to our purpose. Rick Warren states, “Hope is essential for handling the crisis in life. When a man has hope, he is capable of enduring incredible burdens. When hope is gone, people fall apart.” My hope for God’s plan and purpose for my life got me out of bed each day these past two years. I am going to choose to write on hope first….looks like there will be a part I and part II after all!
I have spent much time processing the idea of hope since February 2011. I have read books on hope, talked to my counselor about hope, searched the scriptures for hope, cried out to God concerning hope, and finally clung to hope. My hope is what enables me to carry on each day in our new home, a new state, a new church, a new town, but all with the same purpose. I did not see the clear connection between hope and my purpose until today. Hope gives me the strength and the desire to walk in my purpose. Hope gives me the ability to see and plan for a future…because I know my life still has a purpose. My search for hope actually was a result of my search for joy. Following is something I previously wrote about hope and joy, which directly relates to hope. This was written March 2012.
About a month ago, a week after the one-year mark, I suddenly came to an all time low. I say suddenly, but it crept on me for a couple of days, and then I was suddenly drowning. I felt that there were no expressions left in my face. I could not smile. I did not want to talk. Life felt blank, bland, and completely, utterly, absent of joy. I had never experienced this particular, specific mood, to this extent. I had to remind myself again, as before, “Breathe,” and “Breathe deeply.” I don’t remember how it happened, but I somehow ended up on the phone with Julie, and I broke down on the phone and told her how empty I felt, that there was no joy. She said that she had noticed it as well. She immediately took charge of all of the boys and gave me the next three hours alone in my house to work through this extreme low. I went upstairs and decided to write but knew that I could not post it at that time. I was not even sure that I could write it all out in this form, so I chose to write a poem to describe my emotional state. I was in a mental search for joy. I was trying to get a grip on biblical joy, what it meant, and was it wrong for me to not be feeling or walking in joy at this time. Following is the poem that was produced out of that quiet time of searching and experiencing this great void.
Mystery of Joy
Empty void monotonous blank
Duty bland continual drudgery
Robotic expressionless motionless numbing
Invisible, concealed, hidden, covert
Stir it up, seek for it, dig for it, fight for it
Uncover it, desire it……mysterious joy
Keep moving, lean forward, believe, trust
Presence, feeling, absence, searching
Discovering, understanding……mysterious joy
February 28, 2012
I sat on all of these feeling for a couple of weeks then searched the scriptures more deeply concerning the topic of joy. After reading countless scriptures and many studies on joy on the Internet, I realized that I was not in a place yet to feel, show, or walk out any form of joy, as we know joy. Then I came across this verse in Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” This jumped right into my heart when I read it. I thought to myself, “I can be joyful in hope….this is something I can do.” I can be joyful in my certainty (my hope) of God’s sovereignty. I can be joyful in my anticipation (my hope) of God’s perfect plan for my life. J. Hampton Keathley, III said in a study on hope,
“By its very nature, hope stresses futurity and invisibility. Things we have not received, can’t see or both. It changes how we see ourselves. It changes us into pilgrim persons, people who see this life as a temporary sojourn. It changes what we value. Hope, if biblical, makes us heavenly minded rather than earthly minded. It affects what we do with our lives - our talents, time, treasures. The Christian life, if it is grasped according to God’s truth, is a magnificent obsession with an eternal hope, a hope that does not lead to an escapist attitude, but to the pursuit of life on a whole new dimension. It makes you bullish on the potentials of life as stewards of God. It gives us power to live courageously to be all God has called us to be in Christ.”
I do have an obsession with an eternal hope. I am pursuing life on a whole new dimension. I am living courageously to be all that God has called me to be in Christ. My hope has changed my values, or rather secured them even more. I am a pilgrim on this journey. My ability to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer,” is the force that pushes me along this long road.
“May God, the source of hope, fill you with joy and peace through your faith in Him. Then you will overflow with hope…” Romans 15:13
“I have hope when I think of this: The Lord’s love never ends: His mercies never stop. They are new every morning.” Lamentations 3:21-23
“I have plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future.” Jeremiah 29:11
(I recommend reading The Hopeful Heart by John Claypool.)