I used to go to a lot of football games when I was growing up because my dad was a football coach. There was one item we always carried with us—a set of binoculars. My mom and I would take turns watching the game on the field with those binoculars. But what I really loved to do was watch the people that were cheering in the stands. Watching people can be quite entertaining. (I promise. I am not a creeper.)
I guess you could say that I am observant. I had to be that way growing up in order to survive. I became the daughter that I needed to be thinking that would make my dad happy. And if my dad was happy, then he would quit hurting us verbally and physically. I really thought that I could make him want to be a different person. Well, that strategy didn’t work!
For years and years, I placed my hope on my father changing. I thought if I could do enough, he would change for me. My biggest mistake was placing my hope on a person and not on God. There is nothing wrong with hoping someone will change. The problem happens when we place our hope on that person changing. After many years of soul searching, I realize that my desire for him to change became more important than my desire for God.
If you have read any of my posts before, you know I am a word nerd. I love to look up definitions of words. So bear with me while I give you two different definitions of hope.
Hope (as a verb)— to cherish a desire with anticipation; to desire with expectation of obtainment; to expect with confidence; trust.
Hope (as a noun)— trust, reliance; a desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment. Someone or something on which hopes are centered.
While I was looking up verses on hope, I remembered reading a verse in Proverbs several years ago that bugged me because I couldn’t understand it. Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy.” So, I decided to do a little research on what “hope deferred” meant. I am so glad I did!
When we eagerly hope for something important, and it keeps being postponed, the longing we feel can make our heart sick. It can cause despair and affliction. When hope is crushed, the heart is crushed. Hope deferred can lead to depression, anxiety, and actual physical sickness. When we wait for a good thing for so long we can become hopeless. Dashed hopes can sicken our hearts. When we keep hoping and hoping things will change we can be tempted to allow that thing to become an idol because we start to want that thing more than God.
While I was reading about “hope deferred”, I recognized that I have been living with a sick heart for most of my life. I have been through depression, anxiety, despair, hopelessness and physical sickness. My heart hoped for my circumstances to change and for people to change for so long that my heart has taken quite a beating. It has been sick over the destruction I have seen and lived through.
I am realizing there has to be a mind switch on what we hope for. We can hope, but it is Who we place our hope on that makes the difference. Let me give you an example. You might have a friend, a family member, or a spouse in your life who is living a lifestyle that is sinful and destructive. You are hoping and praying that he or she will see the light and decide that they no longer want to live that way. Day after day you hope and pray they will change. And, day after day your heart becomes a little sicker when you don’t see a change.
I am learning that I have to catch myself when I am headed into despair. I have to stop, grab hold of my mind, and pray. “Lord, you know how much I want ________ to overcome the sin in their life. I place my hope on You, not on _________ to change. I pray for Your will above my will to be done in their life. I release my hopes and dreams for them to You. No matter what happens, my hope is in you and your will for ________. Help me to handle whatever happens. You are the Source of my hope.”
I know it is easier said than done. But, if we are going to survive emotionally, we have to place our hope on the Lord. This mindset can apply to any situation. My hope has to be on the Lord during this pandemic. My hope can’t be placed on anyone or anything else because, “Hope remains constant when we get to know the Source of all hope.” Kent
Let me share some verses with you.
Isaiah 40:31 “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Lamentations 3:25-26 “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the One who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
Psalm 62:5-7 “I wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.”
Psalm 39:7 “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in You.”
What are we looking for? What are we hoping for? Where are we placing our hope? Are we placing our hope on an answer or a change? Are we waiting quietly before the Lord?” Take some time to ask yourself these questions and process your answers.
All of us are facing many things in our lives that are trying to suck the hope out of us. I have spent too many years allowing that to happen in my life. I want to do better. I want to be better. I know that my eyes have to focus on God and not anyone or anything else. He is the source of hope for all of us. If we put our hope in Him, there are great benefits.
For me, it is a releasing of my will. I need to completely trust His will in my life, and those I love, even if I don’t understand what He is doing. I need to want His will more than mine and mean it when I pray, “Your will be done.” I have hope in Him. I have hope He will always work things out for good. I have hope He is working and moving even when I can’t see it. I must trust Him and His way of working.
I have to be okay even if what I am seeing isn’t okay. It has taken me a long time to get where I am right now. I still struggle with hope because I am so used to being that young girl with the binoculars. I am trying so hard to change the way I process what is going on around me. I am asking for the Holy Spirit to help me retrain my mind to switch from what I see to Who I see. I want to see the Lord through those binoculars and not the people around me. My focus has to be on Him. He is the only way I am going to survive.
I just read this verse and want to share it with you before I finish.
Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
“Hope floats because it has an anchor. And what does an anchor do? It keeps the ship on course when wind and waves rage against it. But the anchor of hope is sunk in heaven, not on earth.” Carol Kent and Gregory Floyd
My anchor, your anchor is Christ. Our happiness comes through hope in God.
I pray this post is helpful to you. I pray that we can find our hope in the Lord and not on things on this earth. Hope does not disappoint when we place it on God. He will accomplish His good and perfect will no matter the circumstances. We can have hope that He will do that!
Until next time…..This is my journey to joy.