This has always been one of my favorite words.
I would scribble it down on paper, using it to try out new letter art. Or I would buy notebooks and wall art that read that word. It was always just a pretty expression, a beautiful string of four letters. But there was also something special about them. I knew they were meant to always help me remember: Hope is my anchor.
Yet there are times now when I look at this word and I wonder how. I wonder why.
How can you have hope when everything is crashing around you?
Why should you hold onto hope when you don’t get what you prayed for?
I don’t understand. I don’t know how I can hold onto hope when things turn upside down.
I look around at a suffering world—a world where things most certainly aren’t as I think they should be—and I ask God why. Why so much pain?
My heart aches inside as I scroll through pictures of the destruction in Texas from the recent Hurricane Harvey. I feel heavy as I look through death tolls and areas of flooding. How can we have hope in this? I question.
I flip through the TV channels and watch as everyone talks anxiously about the hurricane getting ready to hit Florida in only a few short hours. I know people who have to evacuate and might lose their homes. I watch the TV screen as people rush to the stores to get supplies and try desperately to prepare for a storm that they can’t control. Can they find hope here?
My faith feels so small when looking at these things. These storms I can’t stop from killing innocent lives and destroying homes. What’s Your plan here, God? I want to ask.
Maybe…maybe that’s it.
We want to know His whole plan because clearly things aren’t going according to ours and we need an explanation. If He would only tell us why, we believe we will then understand. But how? For: “’My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
His ways, His thoughts, His plans…they’re all so much higher than my own. He can see the whole, grand tapestry when I can only see a small, simple piece of it.
Okay, yes, He has a plan, but…
There’s always that “but” because we so desperately want an answer when faced with such unimaginable grief.
After all: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
One of the most commonly quoted verses in the Bible. God’s plans for us include good. They include hope. But how in all of this?
I still don’t understand. And then I look at Isaiah 43:2 and it tells me, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.”
Quickly reading it, my first thought is, “Great, so God’s telling us that those bad things won’t come near us and we won’t have to deal with them, so…why are we?”
But no. I read it again.
That’s not what He’s saying at all.
He says…when you pass through the waters…when you walk through the fire.
What? Where is the hope in this passage? What hope can all of the victims of these massive hurricanes hold onto?
And that’s when I see it.
The hope--the promise—it’s right there. It’s right there, shining beautiful in the midst of the pain…
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.
There it is.
I catch my breath as it hits me. Our hope is not that bad things will not happen. Our hope is not that we will be spared from the waters or the fire—all those things that threaten to break us inside. No.
Our hope is so much greater. Our hope is that even in the bad things happening around us, He is with us. Our hope is that He will never leave us. Our hope is that God has a good, good plan for our lives and, even when we don’t understand, nothing in this world can destroy that plan. This takes my breath away. The hope God is giving us has nothing to do with outside circumstances—things that change like the tides.
The hope God is giving to us is a steadfast hope. Some of the definitions or synonyms for steadfast are: firm and unwavering, reliable, constant, steady.
This hope does not change because our God, the author of our true hope and faith, does not change. (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 12:2) He is our Hope!
And that’s when we know.
Whatever comes our way, whatever struggle or pain lies ahead, we know we will be okay. We will come out unbroken because our God stands with us. He is working good in our story—even in the pain—and even if we don’t understand the purpose until heaven.
If you are a victim of Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma, my heart aches for you. I can’t possibly understand what you’re going through, but I hope to encourage you by pointing you to the One who does understand. He understands every bit of your pain and looking at your pain, He weeps with you (John 11:33-35).
When you walk through the water or through the fire, take heart. He is with you. He will never let you go.
Hold onto your Hope, beloved.
*Florida, my prayers are with you tonight. God, give you strength. ♥