Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Where is the HOPE?

Every once in a while you need a little nudge to get through life.  You set reminders on your phone for important dates or appointments.  You hang post it notes on the fridge to remind you of tasks that need to be performed. You hang 3x5cards on the bathroom mirror with quotes or verses that give you inspiration or direction.  Or you wear bracelets to remind you of hope! Just a little something to help you keep focused on what's most important.

Well, last week was one of those weeks.  It was the end of August- and it just wasn't ending fast enough.  I started the month knowing that it was bound to be difficult. Five years ago Leisha died.  I knew that having a milestone anniversary was bound to knock the wind out of me.  I prepared for the date- planned things to do that would allow me time to just celebrate and reflect.  But the closer it got, the more difficult it was to breathe easily.  I began to feel my teeth setting, my jaws becoming rigid as I tried to do the next right thing.  My tears came often and out of no where.  My heart broke at the simplest reminder of the her absence.  But not only her absence, but the girls going off to their last year of their program. They both graduate in May- Cait with her Master's, Brie with her Bachelor's degree.  Life is making bigger changes all the time and those last few days of August seemed to amplify all the emotions I had regarding all of it.  The intensity of grief was every bit as strong as in the darkest days.  The blending of highs and lows, soaring and failing kept me out of balance at every turn.  I found myself spiraling downward- a very familiar, though not so recent memory.

I found myself asking over and over, "Where's the hope?"  Where is the hope? Where is the hope? There had been many times in the last 5 years when I was so overcome by those words. But I had felt quite proud of myself for finding hope and feeling life again.  I had even spoken about it on several occasions.  But here I am again.  I really feel lost.  I really hopeless, as if it grabbed me by the legs and was dragging me back into that tunnel of darkness.    If God is a God of hope, and if He promises to never leave us- then where was He now.  But if I've learned anything in these last 5 years, it's that to see hope, you've got to look for it.  He hasn't left me, but sometimes I've got to notice where He is.  That takes intentionality, and that takes time.

So I jumped in my car and headed to the DEEP WOODS to listen.  As I drove, I popped in the CD I had resurrected from my collection.  It was an old Steven Curtis Chapman CD.  The first words I heard were voices, as if from a current radio or TV spot giving the news of war and destruction, of loss & despair.  Suddenly another voice comes on- a preacher, (actually I think it might be Chuck Colson speaking) and his words were "Where is the hope?" which echoed over and over behind his next words.  I don't know how many times they echoed on the CD, I only knew they were there to get my attention.  They were my words.  They were here just for me!

Colson went on to say something like, "We will not find hope in our government or in the circumstances around us. Hope is found in the power of God working in the hearts of people".  People like me, hearts like mine. 

Chapman came on to sing,
  "Where is the hope? Where is the peace? that can make this life complete. For every man, woman, boy and girl looking for heaven in the real world."

Isn't that the truth?  Isn't that what we are all wanting?  Heaven in our real world. In the middle of our ordinary, or the pain, or the tears?  What do we hear God saying as He breaks into our grief?  What is he saying today?

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