Hope in the Struggle

Devastatingly cruel, soul-searing events from my past nearly crushed me a number of years ago. I remember my heart-broken spirit and how lost, alone, and ashamed I felt. I recall the never-ending heartache, dejection and lamentable moments of that dark period in my life. And I wondered. Would I ever be free of the despair? Would I ever climb out of the atramentous abyss that held me?

When I bring these memories to mind today, it’s almost surreal that I experienced so much pain and desolation.

But I did.

Almost thirty years later, these sad memories rarely surface in my mind any more. I am free of that hurt. Gratefully, my Lord guided me through that painful and bitter season and set me on a new course – ultimately propelling me forward to where I am today. Thus, although inconceivable to some, I look back upon that time with sincere gratitude.

Granted, that situation could have been so much worse. Life is like that, isn’t it? Life can be bad, really bad in fact. However, life can always be much worse. The truth of the matter is that although my previous life challenges were incredibly difficult, the Lord, in His gracious, merciful way contained my catastrophe. He brought it to an end so that it didn’t go on forever and ever and ever.

Caught up in a trial of life, we are susceptible to believing that our current life challenge will never find their way to resolution. Yet, they do, don’t they? The hardships we faced ten or twenty years ago are not the same ones we have today.

In the book of Lamentations, Jeremiah shares about the inconceivable hardship he endured as He proclaimed the Word of the Lord. He prophesied to an apathetic people who shunned Jeremiah and His God. As a result, Jeremiah experienced real persecution of faith. Jeremiah was ridiculed for his words. He was falsely accused and imprisoned. He was shackled in chains. His reputation and way of life were shattered to pieces. He suffered broken bones and his body wasted away. Even his teeth were crushed by gravel. He experienced all of this bitter misfortune and suffering due to his unswerving resolve to proclaim the Word of the Lord.

So, you would think, Jeremiah’s spirit would remain downcast as his memories focused upon his painful past.

There is no doubt that Jeremiah’s life was filled with misery. However, he refused to camp in despair.

He writes these words in the book of Lamentations:

Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.’

New International Version, Lamentations 3: 21 -24

Despite his very real struggles, Jeremiah elects to remember the good in his life from the past and in the present.

He focuses upon the great love, abundant mercy, and great faithfulness of his Lord. And in so doing, what happens?

His infinite hope rested upon the Lord. He is revived, restored, and replenished.

The hope that Jeremiah writes about is the Hebrew transliterated word, yachal. Yachal means to wait, to hope for, to expect, and to trust. Yachal is used 48 times in Scripture and in almost every instance the object of the waiting period is the Lord. In addition, this waiting, expectant hope is usually associated with a period of struggle and pain.

In the midst of Jeremiah’s infirmity and weakness, he finds hope and strength in reflecting upon and hoping in the Divine character of his God. As Jeremiah remembers the unfailing love, enduring faithfulness, great compassion, and the good, good, good providences of his God for his present needs, he trusts that God will fulfill His promises in the future, as well.

For Jeremiah, he saw his greatest weakness and greatest struggles as His God’s greatest opportunities! Each new day dawned a new hope!

I am heartened by Jeremiah’s words and example of faith.

Are you?

Often times we most admire and take encouragement from those who are experiencing significant challenges but still hold true to their hope in their God. For theirs’ is a faith that truly embodies an expectant hope in struggle. Although the pain and hardship is very real and very difficult, they don’t lose sight of their God – knowing that as they hold fast to Him – He is holding fast to them. The great difficulties that have besieged our family members or friends embolden their hope.

Friends, the challenges we face in this world are real. Adversity, misfortune, betrayal, disaster, and times of significant grief will come – if we aren’t experiencing them already. No one lives a life free of pain or suffering. No one.

When we experience such times of hurt, struggle and loss, we need to remember the great, empowering, sustaining love of our God. His compassions never fail. His grace is sufficient and His promises are true. Thus, we can turn to our God and trust Him to lead us through whatever challenges we face.

Standing upon the ground of hope steadies us – even as our world shakes, rattles, and rolls around us.

As we stand in faith, in the midst of our challenging life, we show the world to Whom we belong.

This sustaining hope steadied me 30 years ago. And again, when our boys were diagnosed with autism. And again when we moved across the world to South Africa. And again when I experienced cancer. And again, and again, and again, as I recalled the great faithfulness of my Lord. As Jeremiah remembered, I did too.

This is key.

How has the Lord sustained you – as you waited and struggled in expectant hope – for your God to see you through?

Recall.

Remember.

Don’t forget.

Keep praying…

Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.’

For as you do, your faith will inspire others to hope in God as well! And that matters – especially in the midst of dark and troubling times!

2 Comments

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  1. Thank you for reminding me to keep HOPE at the front of everything.

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