As I read my loved one’s email, my eyes filled with tears. His words were the culmination of years of prayer and intercession, and my heart was hopeful about his future for the first time in years. Things were going to change. I could see it.
A few weeks later, a text message showed up on my phone while I was at church. Although there wasn’t much information in the short sentences, I immediately knew something was wrong. Later, a FaceTime call came. When I hung up, I tried not to cry. My husband sat next to me, driving, but I didn’t have to rehash the conversation. He’d heard it.
Where were these tears coming from? Why did I think the outcome was going to be different this time? The same cycle was repeating itself for the hundredth time, and I wondered why I allowed myself to expect something new.
When we hope for an outcome we can’t control, there is always risk.
Because Lord knows, many times we don’t get what we want. We pray for healing, but it doesn’t come. We ask the Lord to give our loved one strength to overcome the demons that keep him enslaved, but he remains in shackles.
After years without seeing change, it’s tempting to protect our hearts. Don’t hope for change, because it’s easier than setting ourselves up for disappointment. Become afraid to hope or stay callous, because hope only produces more pain.
Ever been there? Perhaps you’re there now, and wondering how much more you can take. Believe me, I know. I walk this road with you, and ask the Lord the same questions.
Yesterday, I read Psalm 42, and I was stuck by how when David is overcome with emotion and distress, he takes action. He commands his soul. Instead of letting his feelings have the final say, he tells his soul where to turn. Where to hope. And his hope isn’t in the situation changing or in the miracle itself, although in many Psalms he prays for deliverance.
His hope is in God. The unchanging, steadfast love of God, and nothing else.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 42:11 ESV
When we turn our attention from our circumstances to a God whose love is perfect, we can know this:
1. God will never stop pursuing us or those he loves.
It’s what he does. It defines the essence of who he is. Even when people reject him and go their own way, he will keep chasing them. So keep lifting those prayers to the One who hears them, because as long as you or your loved one is breathing, God will continue to intervene.
2. God can redeem lost time, broken hearts, and relationships.
As human beings who live within the confines of time, it’s easy to look at a life that’s consumed by addiction, deception, and lies and think, “It’s too late. They’ve made their decision. They will never change.” But to God, time is irrelevant. If someone makes the choice to turn to him, he can redeem years of running. But first, they have to make that decision.
As I remember these attributes of God, my mourning turns to hope. I hope not because I’ve seen the miracle, but because I know the One who sends his Spirit to change lives. I know his pursuit doesn’t stop because of poor choices or stubborn hearts.
And because I know each of these things, I continue to praise. I can have faith in the unseen, and trust the One who hears every prayer.