Sunday, May 1, 2016

"And if not..."

Hope is a tricky thing. We are called to have hope despite circumstances. We are told that hope is the only thing stronger than fear; that it is the anchor of the soul. And so on good days and bad, we cling to hope. Hope is good. Until the very thing we hope for falls short. They say, “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Really what they mean is, ‘when you don’t get the thing you hope for, your world feels like it’s crashing down around you and nothing will ever be okay again’.

Now this might seem like a tangent, but stick with me. The other day I was eating a chocolate chip granola bar. My sweet pup stood at my feet and cried and whined and looked at me with sheer desperation. She wanted that granola bar very badly. Those of you who know me know that I love my dog more than anything else, and I have a tendency to spoil her. It hurt me to not be able to share with her and to see her look so betrayed when I finished off the last tasty bite. And yet, I know that chocolate makes dogs very sick. I am withholding from her because I love her. Not because I’m mean and greedy and like to see her disappointed.

I often wonder if it is the same with humans. We hope, beg, and pray for what we want and what we think is best for us. And when we don’t get what we hope for, it’s easy to believe that God is unjust or life is unfair, and to run to a corner with our tail between our legs and wave our white flag. But what if God is withholding the thing we so hope for because He knows it’s not good for us and He loves us. What if we could trust that deferred hope might be the greatest act of love?

The other day I was feeling especially anxious. The first thing that popped into my head was, “And if not, He is still good” (Daniel 3:18). So let’s continue to be brave enough and vulnerable enough to have hope, even if that means risking hurting our hearts. Because in the hope, and even the deferred hope, there is so much opportunity to experience God’s love.