My Epic of Hope

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I'm not sure what makes someone a writer, and I'm not qualifying myself as one, but I've noticed that when BIG things happen, I have to do two things. I have to talk them through with the hubs. He listens to all my crazy, sits in pensive silence, then slowly, quietly speaks Truth into the situation and draws me back to reality. Then I have to write. I get this pit that sits in the back of my throat and another in my stomach, almost like the feeling before you start to cry, mixed with a feeling of urgency and anticipation. It's a feeling of needing to do something about all these thoughts and feelings overwhelming my heart, mind and soul. It's a feeling that spurs me to action. 

This feeling started welling up in me yesterday after a phone call. I waited until I could talk and cry it out with the hubs, but the feeling remained. I wrote something in the Notes app on my phone, but it's still there, that pit. I needed more space, more time to process than a phone app, my clumsy fat fingers or an Instagram post would allow. 

I told God this morning that I know He's writing a great big story for our lives. I told Him that I get that and sometimes it's exciting, but also that I wish mine was more of a short story rather than an epic. 

What I meant is that I am CONSTANTLY up against new trials. I'm not saying I'm any different from the next human being. No. I know everyone has hard in their lives. I can only speak from my experience. And my experience is one of trial after trial after trial. And I am exhausted. 

I wish I could hold onto the adage that God never gives me more than I can handle. That's not entirely true. If He gave me what I could handle, I'd never turn to Him. I'd never need Him. Instead, He floods my life with situations that are beyond my control. He CONSTANTLY gives me things I can't manage. And that's what causes me to throw my hands in the air and turn to Him. 

In under one hour this morning, the same Scripture passage popped into my life at three different times. It's a passage incredibly familiar to me not only because we just studied it in our small group, but because it has been a lifeline these past few years. If you haven't read the book of Romans, wow. I would suggest you change that SOON. I wouldn't suggest you read it on its own. Find a study Bible and/or a commentary to help you through the book. There is SO MUCH packed into sixteen chapters. It's like Paul needed to write down ALL THE THINGS in one letter. It's so theologically rich that to read it without diving into it should be considered a crime. 

I digress.

The passage that popped up this morning was Romans 5:3-5:

     "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame,
because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

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The verses preceding this passage say that we have been justified meaning our sins forgiven, our records wiped clean. And in that justification, we not only have peace, but a hope of the glory of God. We have a hope of perfection and wholeness. Then verse three starts, "Not only that, BUT..." 

Not only do we have justification, peace and the hope of glory, BUT we also can rejoice in our sufferings because the process of suffering purifies us and produces MORE hope. Hope for being made like Christ. Hope for glory and perfection and eternity. 

We see later on in Romans 8:24-25 that hope isn't wishing for something we see. Hope isn't wishing for something at all. Hope is a CERTAINTY of what we can't see but know is to come.

I find a lot of my struggles with God are due to how I view Him in light of other authority figures in my life. I see Him as an angry and vindictive God. A God who doles out cruel and unjust punishments just because He can. 

And that is so, so wrong. God is not vindictive. He is just. He is righteous. And most of all, because of the work His Son did on the cross, His anger and wrath is no longer directed at me. 

So what I'm experiencing is NOT punishment. It is a refining fire. I am a lump of steel being pounded and fired and refined until I come out on the other end of it all purified, cherished and valuable. What's exhausting is that I know perfection won't happen until glory. So while I wait on that, the trials will continue and life will continue to be hard. And it's not because I serve an angry God. It's because I serve a God who wants the best for me. He wants me to join Him for eternity and the only way that can happen is by being refined so I can look more like Him. 

I can rage and cry and be stubborn all I want, but in the end, it always ALWAYS ends in me realizing that these trials are something to be thankful for. These trials are making me more like Jesus, the One I love. That is NOT something to begrudge. It is something to welcome. 

And now that lump of urgency is gone from my throat and stomach. My mind has quieted. My heart is at peace. I have written myself into submission and I can think clearly once again. 

 

 

Photo by Simson Petrol on Unsplash