Grasping Onto Hope

grasping-onto-hope

 

i.

 

Ah, hope.

 

Lately, I’ve been mulling over the puzzling question of what real hope looks like, in a world as messed up as ours is.

 

I’ve been thinking, praying, talking, and tweeting about it, and I’ve been doing my best to grasp the essence of what it truly is…and what it can look like individually in our lives.

 

Hope is beautiful, because it is the promise of faith. Not blind faith, but real, grounded, and radical faith in a world of chaos; confusion; hopelessness.

 

Hope is a form of anticipation, of something guaranteed, not just wished for, and I’ve been grappling with this too, recently.

 

Where is hope when we can’t see straight? Where is hope in depression, in heartache, in desperation?

 

Where is hope when the money is tight, when pain is ever-present, when the future seems miserably bleak?

 

Where is hope in hospitals, in nursing homes, at gravesides?

 

Where is hope in any of it? Where is hope at all?

 

What are we even hoping for?

 

I wish I could lie and say that it all gets better. It may, or it may not. But God is not any less good when He chooses not to give us everything we think we need on this earth. Our ultimate need is a spiritual one, one He took care of on the cross.

  Continue reading “Grasping Onto Hope”

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When Life Just Feels…Meaningless.

when-life-just-feelsmeaningless

This week, I’ve been reading in the book of Ecclesiastes, and man, it’s really caused me to think deeply.

 

Honestly, this book is full to the brim of pessimism, nihilism, and straight-up melancholic hopelessness.

 

Ecclesiastes 1:14

“I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind.”

 

Ecclesiastes 3:12

“So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.”

 

It’s opened my eyes, though – and so much so.

 

Because truly, don’t we all feel this at times? The whole church sanctuary’s full of people singing, and “How great is our God!” And “…in His presence our problems disappear.” And “You heal my broken heart…”

 

And for some of us, at different times in our lives, that’s the last thing we want to hear. Sure, God might be good…but we don’t feel it. We don’t feel like raising our hands in praise, we don’t feel like singing about the beautiful life He’s given us, we don’t feel like any of it. The problems are still there.

Continue reading “When Life Just Feels…Meaningless.”

Seeing Resolutions in a New Light

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Hi there, friend.

 

Happy New Year.

 

It’s 2017 over in my corner of the world, and after a break to refresh my mind, spirit, and celebrate Christmas, I’m back once again.

 

I’m not sure what 2016 looked like for you. Maybe it was wonderful, full of growth and love, hope and peace, or maybe it wasn’t that great. Maybe you were stressed and worn, and maybe it was a really tough year.

 

I’ve seen so many complaints on social media, saying, “2016 was horrible, let’s hope 2017’s a little better.”

 

I feel you, friend. 2016 wasn’t an easy year for any of us.

 

But there’s this trend…and it happens every year. We desire to make this new year “our year,” and scribble down resolutions, or come up with defining words, and believe, “If only I work hard enough, this year will be amazing.”

Continue reading “Seeing Resolutions in a New Light”

Where to Find Hope in Pain

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I probably don’t have to tell you that life’s really tough, sometimes.

 

I’ve done so many posts about pain – about depression and anxiety, about feelings of hopelessness, about when life throws things at us that we’re not ready for, about what we’re supposed to do when we literally have no idea what to do.

 

Life’s messy.

 

Painful.

 

Confusing.

 

And my first reaction, honestly, is to go hide away in my room and look for a distraction.

 

It’s awkward to admit that, but it’s true. I want distraction over comfort, desperate feelings over peace, extremes over hope.

Continue reading “Where to Find Hope in Pain”

Hope For When God’s Promises Seem to Be Hidden by Pain

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Often, I’ll look around me and see those people that just seem to have everything so together.

 

Whether online or face to face, there are always those people that simply seem to have life down. They’re walking around, living life, and gently saying things like, “Oh yes, I trust God,” and “Of course I can feel how much God loves me,” and “I am so content, no matter what.”

 

And seeing those people like that…it’s so inspiring, yet oftentimes so intimidating.

 

Because it’s easy for us to say, or at least for me to say, “I trust You, God,” when life is simple.

Continue reading “Hope For When God’s Promises Seem to Be Hidden by Pain”

On Planning and When Things Turn Out Radically Different Than We Imagined

on-planning-and-when-things-turn-out-radically-different-than-we-imagined

The funny thing about writing is that it’s made up of so many ideas and so few realities. A lot of thinking, a lot of different visions of where to go – and then sitting down at the computer to actually write is often quite torturous.

 

Yes, I know I say I love this whole writing thing, but it’s really hard, alright?

 

There’s a lot of thinking involved. A lot of planning. A lot of daydreaming.

 

And then I sit down to my computer and the words don’t totally know where to go. They don’t know whether to form long sentences or short, to be sophisticated or poetic or blunt, to be precise or to be vague. They don’t know whether to arrange themselves into a concise doctrinal argument, or into a messy, heart-spilling session of vulnerability.

Continue reading “On Planning and When Things Turn Out Radically Different Than We Imagined”

When We Can’t Explain the World’s Pain

when-we-cant-explain-the-worlds-pain

Wordless.

 

Sometimes that’s what life makes us.

 

When we see the tragedies in the world, our own selves falling apart, the world splitting with injustice, and evil, and suffering – we don’t know what to say.

 

In our heads, we know that God is all good, all powerful, and full of compassion and love.

 

Yet when life makes us ache, brings us to our breaking point, and the world shouts, “How could you believe in a God that allows you to suffer?” we’re often silent.

Continue reading “When We Can’t Explain the World’s Pain”

How to Help a Hurting Friend

How to Help a Hurting Friend

Maybe I talk about hurt too much. Maybe I’ve mentioned depression and stress and anxiety and failure so often that I sound like I need serious help.

 

If I do, I’m sorry.

 

But we can’t ignore pain.

 

As I sit here at my computer, I’m gazing out the window at the wet earth around me.

It’s been raining for days. A bone-chilling draft penetrates my skin, enough so that nothing warms me, not even my cup of coffee, and my beef stew is long-since hot.

 

Sometimes, that’s what hurt feels like, whether it’s mental, emotional, or physical.

 

It’s uncomfortable, and not something easily shaken away. Pain lingers, with no button to press or Band-Aid to put on to make it all better.

 

I’ve been on both sides of hurt. I’ve had friends in need, and I myself have had times like those as well.

 

Perhaps you’re mainly on the other side of things; watching friends suffer, and not knowing how to help them. Or maybe you’re the hurting one. Maybe people see you in need of help and ask, “What can I do for you?” and you simply respond, “Nothing, I’m good,” with a fake smile plastered on, reminiscent of Barbie.

 

But no matter how strong we are, or at least how strong we pretend to be, we’re all weak on the inside. We all need people around us to support us and help us to heal.

 

Are you wondering how to help a hurting friend? Here are three ways.

 

Pray For Them.

 

There’s nothing more beautiful and powerful than prayer. When a friend tells you, “I’ve been praying for you,” it’s touching. To think that someone would take the time to implore the Creator of the universe on our behalf is one of the kindest things we can hear.

Yes, because it’s a thoughtful gesture, but more so because we know that prayer works. Perhaps not always in the fix-it-quick way we might think, but in the way that God knows is best.

 

Sometimes, I can feel that someone’s been praying for me, when a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I just feel free.

It’s a blessing to get a text a little while later, saying, “Hey Amanda, I prayed for you today. How are you doing?”

 

Wow.

 

James 5:16

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

 

Stay With Them.

 

It’s almost hypocrisy to flee upon finding out someone’s aching, after promising to be there for them.

 

It’s easy to walk out of a friendship when the person’s fallen into difficult days, for it requires no energy on our part.

But please, I beg of you, if you want to help your hurting friend, stick by them. Stay alongside them when they tell you they’re “fine.” Don’t judge them when they refuse help – sometimes, they’re just testing you to see if you’ll remain by their side, because it’s what they really need.

 

Don’t give up on your friend. Forgive them if they’ve damaged your friendship. Keep loving them, even when they act like they don’t want to be loved. Trust me, they do.

 

Proverbs 17:17

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

 

Galatians 6:2

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

 

Encourage Them.

 

Encouragement is incredible. It has an innate power to keep us running when we want to give up. It inspires us to push on toward our goals. It motivates us to get out of bed in the morning because we know we are cared for.

 

Whether sharing Bible verses, sweet, comforting words, sending a care package or letter, or just letting someone know that they’re not alone, encouragement of all kinds is a blessing.

 

To your hurting friend (or perhaps even you), it may mean the world.

 

And don’t give up. Keep encouraging them and lavishing the love of Christ on your friend.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:11

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

 

*aj