spoudazo

a blog about daughters in crisis and the moms who love them

Archive for the tag “heroes”

Entwined With Hope

There Is Always Hope by KrzyhoI keep hope tightly wrapped around me now. There have been times through the years, the long days and nights of wanting so desperately to see some stability in my daughter’s life, that I have come close to unwinding all of my hope like thread from off a spool.  But the unwinding tends to cause a lot of tangling, knotting, and general emotional mayhem to happen! Hope does no good all balled up in a wadded mess. Have you ever tried to get the knots out of a mishandled skein of yarn or an unkempt bobbin? At best, it frays patience. At worst, it proves impossible.

Hope is often very slippery and hard to keep hold of. When one’s efforts appear to fail or when a victory is followed by a setback, optimism tends to leak away. Today may look awfully discouraging. Yesterday may have looked that way too. But hope based on circumstances is fragile and likely to fail. Too much hope placed in something (or someone) fallible is risky.  But hope placed in immutable, unchangeable, benevolent and transforming love and power is a sure thing because it means you ALWAYS have something to be hopeful about.

When it appears that all reason to hope has vanished, you have entered a danger zone. Hopelessness hurts you and it hurts everyone around you because the decisions it fosters are rarely the best ones. Hopeless days breed desperation, unbridled emotion, irrationality, and depression.

My sense of hope has been challenged countless times. I’ve often stood at the brink of hopeless, feeling very much like I may as well dive in head first. One thing that has kept me from it is the same thing that has kept many others throughout history — continued faith in a specific promise from God.  A favorite example of this is from Joseph‘s life (the guy in the Book of Genesis). Joseph had dreams as a youth in which he could see himself in a future position of leadership and importance. He made the mistake of voicing this to his siblings, who reacted by selling him as a slave and telling their father he’d been killed. I cannot do the story justice by trying to sum it up so briefly, but Joseph’s dreams did eventually come true AFTER a long list of tragic events that could have annihilated anyone’s hope. He was seduced by his master’s lecherous wife, falsely accused of adultery, and thrown into a dungeon and forgotten for years. Through it all, Joseph held fast to the promises his dreams represented because he knew that the giver of those dreams was God Himself.

Every promise was kept and brought to pass. Not only was Joseph released from the dungeon, he was made a ruler in Egypt. He was so full of wisdom and insight after spending so many years shut in with God, that he led the nation successfully through seven years of famine. His character, forged in the fire of trial and tribulation, is universally admired. He forgave his brothers and took care of his family.

His summation of the whole ordeal is beyond beautiful. It’s something only a hoper could say: “But as for you, you thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Gen. 50:20)

If I behold discouragement and disappointment, I am faced with a choice. I can choose to let it dictate to me my level of hope and optimism or I can go back and recount the promises I have received. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He still makes promises and He still keeps them. Obtaining one, believing it, and learning to wait patiently for its consummation are strong weapons against despair.

Job Didn’t Listen to His Wife

Job and His Friends by Ilya RepinMost everyone is at least somewhat familiar with the story of Job, the guy in the Bible who lost nearly everything in a matter of days. His life is a case study on dealing with adversity.  You’ve heard of the patience of Job, right? Rather than yield his soul to the agony of his circumstances, he chose to say, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. Even when his body was smitten with sores and he sat down among the ashes, he refused to entertain his wife’s suggestion that he curse God and die! Rather, he said, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and we not receive evil?”

What was up with this guy? How did he stay anchored to his God through a psychic hurricane, a tsunami, and tornado combined? Job knew things about God and the structure of the universe that some of us, educated as we may think we are, do not comprehend. All of his life, Job walked and talked with God. They were friends and companions, they knew each other. Job’s suffering opened a door for him to know God even better. Job chose, of his own free will, to walk through that door. He could have chosen to shut it and join forces with his wife, accusing God and feasting on bitterness and anger. We all have that choice to make when trials and tribulations come our way. I’ve had some occasions to choose!

Because of what he went through, Job learned many things. He discovered that his human limitations make it silly to project stuff on God. He found out that when something bad happens, the people around us tend to assume it was because of something we did. (Obviously, bad things can and do happen as a result of our actions, but on those occasions we can see the cause and effect relationship between what we do and what happens!) He found out that no matter how good of a person he was, he was still frail, prone to deception, and in need of mercy and grace. Best of all, he found out that his Redeemer lives: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye SEES You.” It doesn’t get much better than this!

The story ends with Job forgiving his accusatory friends and asking God to forgive them. “And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” This man took a journey through doubt, fear, and unbelief on a level few others have known. He came through it with his faith intact. Better than intact, actually. His faith gained a depth and a richness and a stability that he could not have obtained through any other means. On the other side of the valley, he was a man who could be trusted with even more blessings than he had before because his heart was steadfast, having been forged in the fire.

I’m calling Job a hero. We need heroes more than ever right now. One of the things I’ve decided to do with this blog is to start collecting stories about lesser-known heroes. Help me make a list.

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