I am quickly discovering that figuring out what God wants me to do in this next phase of my life is not the most challenging thing that I am facing at the moment. Instead, I am challenged to hope and to hope for things that are so important that just the act of hope seems impossible.
My health has been one of the greatest complications during my time in graduate school and, while not the main reason, is certainly one of the reasons that I am graduating in August and leaving my program. I've been so surprised when people, after they find out that I am leaving my program, have suggested that perhaps my fibromyalgia will go away now that it appears to have served its purpose. They've point out the ways in which God has used my health to help make my decision to leave, and they have hope that God will heal me now.
I find myself wanting to hope for the same thing that they are hoping for. I hear God challenging me to place my hope in Him, regardless of my fear and my circumstances. I want to hope for healing and believe that God can do it, but I find myself asking, "What if He doesn't?" What do we do when the things we hope for never come? What do we do when we want something so much that to actually hope and pray for it is terrifying because we might be disappointed? How do we step out in faith when the potential for failing is so great?
I find the answer in Hebrews 11. The author lists numerous figures from the Bible who acted with hope and stepped out in faith. They did not receive what they had been promised immediately, sometimes they never saw the end result of their hope, they only saw that possibility in the distance and welcomed it, longing for something better, something heavenly. They heard the Lord and they followed Him, knowing that, whatever happened, if the Lord was leading them, they would be better off than they were before.
I am placing my hope in the Lord, trusting that so long as I am fully relying on Him, the end result doesn't matter so much. Whether my hopes come to pass is less important than whether I am trusting God to provide for me.
Are there things you are afraid to hope for? How is God asking you to respond?
Hebrews 11: 1-2
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.