Hope can be a scary thing. Dashed hopes are devastating. Falling from the heights of our expectations is bruising, debilitating. The next time, we aim lower, safer. After numerous tumbles, some of us simply stop reaching for any stars lumbering through our days with low-slung outlooks.
When I re-entered the teaching field after many years gone, scoring a job taught me many lessons in humility and persistence. I remember one interview with a school board where I could feel the chemistry bubbling between us. The questions they asked revealed their excitement about me. After three or four “Sorry, we wish you well,” rejections after other interviews, I could tell THIS was my job, my place, my peeps.
I left the interview lighthearted and grabbed the phone a few hours later with eager anticipation when I saw the call came from that school. “Sharon, we all absolutely loved you and think you’d be great in the position!” Oh, if only that sentence stopped there. Instead, a “but,” followed the word position. “….but after we interviewed you, we dealt with our budgetary issues and reached the conclusion that we can’t put anyone in that position this year. We need to divide up the portfolio between our existing staff. We’re so sorry, but we’d love to keep your name on file for next year.”
Yeah, file this. Seriously, I barely made it to the end of the conversation without bawling. Even when I got the job, I didn’t get the job. I thought of all the money and time invested in countless college courses to re-activate my teaching certificate. I thought about the ache in my heart every time I attended any event at my daughter’s high school, envious of every teacher I encountered. My hopes hit the “B” for basement in the expectations elevator and plunged. The thought of putting myself through more crushing interviews and rejections sounded horrible. I questioned whether I heard rightly from God at all. Didn’t He lead me to return to teaching? Apparently not.
I believe many Israelites, at the time of Christ’s birth, lived with the same questions, doubts and flagging expectations. Hundreds and hundreds of years passed with no sign of the Messiah. Worse yet, they lived beneath the soul- stomping, iron feet of the Roman empire, an empire committed to establishing their emperor as the one true deity throughout the known world. For Jews at that time, believing Old Testament verses about the coming King presented some challenges.
“The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor.” Genesis 49:10
No Jewish king ruled over them, as in the days of old. Who even knew what happened to the legendary scepters of David and Solomon? What they knew was heavy taxation and Roman laws that violated their Jewish customs and beliefs. I wonder how many of them lived expecting their promised Messiah to appear any day? I think people are people, wherever you go and I wonder if many of them gave lip service to the hope of a coming King without genuinely doing life in that truth. Just like us.
Hope becomes a wonder more than a risk when we focus it on the One who loves us best. Don’t equate His delays and His “No,” with failure and conclude that hope is too expensive. We often make our hope a laser on one dream or request. Whether it’s for healing, employment, financial provision, restored relationship, a home or anything else, it’s so important to remember that God is the only One who can sort us out properly. He wants us to dream large and hope large within the brackets of His design for us.
Understanding the details of that design is where we often lose our hope. We will never hear perfectly from God in this life. So, even when we listen carefully to Him, stand on the Word and stretch out our faith, things will not always go as we desire. Our hope for a specific outcome will shipwreck on the rocks of life in a fallen world at times.
How can we remain hope-filled and expectant after numerous disappointments?
Stay in the word. Let God teach and instruct you in His ways and you will become more skilled at seeing where his hand is moving and blessing.
“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.” Ps. 119:114
“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Ps. 130:5
“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior and my hope is in you all day long.”
Accept God’s delays. I believe I’ve missed some major breakthroughs simply because I chucked my hope too soon. Why did the angels not appear to the people in Bethlehem but instead to bottom of society shepherds? I think it’s because God moves in closer where he senses faith and hope. Maybe he couldn’t find much of that in Bethlehem beyond Joseph and Mary. Your delay in receiving an answer might ultimately end in a “No.” It could also end with “Yes!”
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5:3-4
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow tih hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
Accept God’s “No’s” as wisdom flowing from Perfect Love. God wants the best for us even more than we do for ourselves. When He does not heal, grant us the job, pay off our debt, or restore a relationship we must press in and trust with all our might. An old song says,
“God is too wise to be mistaken,
God is too good to be unkind.
So when you don’t understand,
when you can’t see the plan,
when we you can’t trace His hand,
trust His heart.”
One of my favorite lines from any Christmas song is:
“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn……”
Friends, I don’t know what wearies your soul today but there is fresh hope available for those who will press in to the Father’s breast, lay their heads there and say, “Not my will but Yours be done.” He will guide your dreams and activities towards the wonderful joys he has in store for you.
“May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:22