To hope for something – especially something I know can only come from God – makes me feel vulnerable. To feel vulnerable is to be susceptible to being wounded or hurt.
I have found that it is during the wait when hope hurts.
Proverbs 13:12 (New Living Translation) says:
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.
Have you ever felt heart sick from a hope unfulfilled in your life? There are times when I have responded to this hope-deferred-heart-sick feeling in a not-so vulnerable way.
- Tell myself that it doesn’t matter anyway, and I stop hoping for it.
- Get jealous of other people who have had this hope fulfilled and doubt God’s love for me.
- Get angry at God.
- Plot and plan how to get this thing I want, but I’m filled with worry and doubt because I’m not trusting God.
- Decide what I hope for isn’t feasible and silly and I was shooting too high, so I tell God to never mind.
In all those examples above, I was not being vulnerable with God because guarding and protecting my heart was my fearful response. When I trust God with my deepest desires, then I am able to hope, and it looks more like what is described in Romans 15:13:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are wired to always hope for something, and that means there will be many waiting periods in our lives. During these times of waiting for our prayers to be answered we can be miserable or have a hopeful heart that is overflowing with the power of the Holy Spirit.
- When I was in high school, I hoped to be accepted into a university.
- When I was single, I hoped to be married.
- When I was married, I hoped to become a mother.
- When I was struggling financially, I hoped to get a better job.
- When I had cancer, I hoped to be healed.
- When my mother had dementia, I hoped for one more moment when she could connect with me.
It is during the commas of our life when hope is cultivated. Without the pause, our declaration of hope in a God who hears our prayers could not be made.
Complete this sentence for at least four things you have hoped for in your life.
When I______________ , I hoped to ______________________.
Now reflect on what it felt like during the wait. What did you believe about God? What did you believe about yourself?
When I couldn’t get pregnant in my late thirties and many women were having baby showers during that waiting period in my life, I had to continually hand my heart over to God to help me with the hurt and pain I felt. At times I would struggle with sadness, shame and doubt.
- Sadness because my biological clock was ticking, and time was running out.
- Shame because I was dealing with infertility.
- Doubt that God really cared about my desire to be a mother.
When it became clear that getting pregnant most likely wasn’t going to happen to me, adoption became an option. On January 11, 1998 I was handed a beautiful baby girl in a hotel lobby in Nanchang, China and this was my glorious moment of becoming a mother. God fulfilled my desire in a different way than what I had originally hoped for, and my heart soared with love and I was no longer sad. God answered my prayer to be a mother.
Romans 8:24 says:
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?
Is there something you long for and desire that you just can’t see happening, but you would be crushed if it never did? I have had many times in my life when I was afraid to hope for fear that God would not show up in my life. This fear sabotages my confidence, and as a result I start asking for less, expecting less and I’m satisfied with less because I’m afraid to expect more.
Jeremiah 29 says:
For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
When you read this verse, does it stir hope in your heart because you believe or want to believe that God has plans for your life?
There are times when I look at other women’s lives or accomplishments and wish this would be God’s plan for my life also. I now believe that there is no need to fret over the successes and blessings of other people, because God has a tailored made plan for each one of us. And I’m excited about what is in store for my future.
I have found that reading and praying through the Psalms helps me to stay vulnerable because the authors of the Psalms demonstrate how to be vulnerable with God. Here are some Psalms that express hope during the waiting period:
What are you hoping for right now? Stay vulnerable with God in your hope, and the wait will transform your heart to overflow with joy and patience and the fulfillment will be sweeter because you believed.