There were brownies. I didn’t touch them.
There were snickerdoodles, too. I passed.
There were chocolates chips – at least a handful. I didn’t nibble.
There were two kinds of coffee cakes. I didn’t take one single bite. Not one.
And there was homemade vanilla ice cream.
Did I succumb to any of these sugary sweets?
Nope. Not one.
Victory! Victory!! Victory!!!
I could have easily surrendered and given up my no-sugar 2017 enterprise.
Yes, I could have.
My heart had been pierced. In fact, it was the kind of wounding that inflicted a throbbing, nearly debilitating pain. This was a pain that crashed into me with unrelenting, punishing waves. During previous wounding experiences, I relied upon some type of sugary delight to numb me and at least temporarily make me feel better.
Have you ever hurt that much?
To feel your heart pulse in pain, pound in affliction, and bleed with aching sadness?
That was me.
Yes, I could have easily grabbed a bite of chocolate to ease the intensity of my grief.
But, I didn’t.
I chose to feel the depth of my heartache and allow my God to do His healing work in me.
Gratefully, for the past week, I had meditated on these words:
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his saints….
New International Version, Ephesians 1:18
The cry of my heart this week – even before my wounding – was that my God would illuminate my heart with His hope. Enlighten in this verse is the Greek transliterated word, photizo. Photizo means to give light, to shine, to illuminate, to give understanding, and to impart truth and spiritually saving knowledge. This kind of divine understanding and spiritual illumination can only come through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Chocolate chips won’t do it.
Snickerdoodles won’t either.
Brownies? Fail. Fail. Fail.
You see, my understanding of what is happening in my life can often be misinterpreted. My sin, my selfish desires, my selfish pursuits, my self-protection strategies, my self-denial, and more can blind me. In addition, if something outside of my control happens – that I failed to anticipate – I can misinterpret that too. Honestly, there are things that I do not understand, fail to see, and actually can be bewildered by because I do not have a complete, all-encompassing vision. Because of this reality, I can find myself lost in oblivion.
David said it this way:
For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
New International Version, Psalm 40: 12
There is so much going on in my life that I do not understand, do not comprehend, and do not see. My recent sadness could have lead me to greater despair and to a handful of chocolate chips to anesthetize my hurting heart – if I had chosen to respond that way.
I chose to meditate upon Ephesians 1:18 and seek the illuminating hope of Jesus Christ – no matter how hurt I was. I believe that true spiritual discernment and heart-lifting, joyful revelation is solely offered in Jesus Christ to lead me through misery. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I chose to see beyond my finite, though definitely painful circumstances, and contemplate the goodness of my God and His care of me.
For if my hope relies upon what I expect to happen in life, I am doomed. My decisions, my desires, my actions, my expectations, my responses, and actually anything in life are impacted by infinite outcomes that are beyond my control and beyond my sight. I cannot control what happens tomorrow, today, or even within the next hour or minute. Instead, I need the illuminating hope of Jesus Christ to clearly discern how to respond to the various joys and sorrows that occur in my life. He sees all and He understands all taking me forward from the shadows of my understanding into the light of his revelation and purpose.
I don’t understand well. I just don’t. Not without Christ.
I don’t see into the hearts and intentions of others.
I don’t envision the purpose of everything that occurs in life.
I don’t view beyond my known experience.
However, according to Ephesians 1:18, I have the capacity to be enlightened to understand what matters most – the illuminating hope of Jesus Christ and the assured, certain, confident inheritance I have in Him.
We have the potential and the capacity to receive the illuminating hope of Jesus Christ and live into that space – regardless of what we experience here and now.
As I clung to this truth and meditated upon it, I allowed this illuminating hope to shine into the deep recesses of my broken heart and minister to me, heal me, and allow the forgiveness that was most needed to fill my soul.
I didn’t need chocolate chips, snickerdoodles, coffee cake, brownies, or even homemade ice cream to redeem what happened. I needed the illuminating hope of my Savior, Jesus Christ. And as a result of leaning into Him and receiving His shining hope and comforting guidance, I was able to heal, to forgive, and to grow beyond what happened.
Friends, life is hard at times. In fact, life can be brutal. Often, we see only a portion of what is happening. We cannot see the vast landscape nor envision what lies beyond the horizon line regarding our lives. Yet, how we respond to life’s hardships impacts both us and others.
We need the illuminating hope of Jesus Christ to help us clearly discern how to live into the joys, sorrows, challenges, setbacks, betrayals, disappointments, and detours of life.
In 2017, I was led to refrain from eating sugar. This decision was made to become more spiritually aware of my need for Jesus Christ in times of hurt, loss, and disappointment – rather than deadening my heart with a sugar-fix. This past week, I sought His illuminating hope and basked in it – reveling in His loving, redemptive, heart-lifting power. As I shared, no brownie or snickerdoodle could redeem what occurred like my Savior could. And He did.
Friends, may I encourage you in whatever life situation you find yourself today?
Here is my prayer:
On behalf of us all, I pray that we will seek the illuminating hope of Jesus Christ for our lives – in any way that we need. I pray we will lean into our Heavenly Father in resting, strengthening trust. May the Holy Spirit shine the love and light of Christ into the deepest recesses of our souls to bring hope and healing. As we do, I pray that areas which need to be confessed, released, and redeemed will be identified and addressed with peace and confidence in every aspect of our lives. May we understand that our hearts have the potential and the capacity to be enlightened with spiritual discernment that leads to untold joy. Father, what amazing, beautiful hope and sustaining, life-empowering grace we have in your Son, Jesus Christ. May we take hold and never, ever let go!
In the Name of Jesus,