We all hold expectations of who we hope to become and how we plan to get there. Often, however, we discover an unexpected way to hope.
Several years ago, on a trip to the west coast, we decided to be a bit adventurous and try a different road which was clearly marked on our map. The wide paved highway gave way to a narrower paved road, which led to a gravel road and finally a logging trail through the mountains. We crossed embedded grated gateways through cattle pastures and discovered herds of wildlife. Eventually, the road led us to our destination but in an unexpected way.
Often life resembles our mountain trail adventure. We never quite knew what was over the next ridge or around the next corner. Would we have to turn around? Would we reach a dead end? We had never travelled this way before. At times, it was terrifying. We simply had to keep going trusting the maker of the map.
“…but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
Sufferings? Perseverance? Character development? None of these even places in my list of favorite experiences. But all are necessary. They lead us along the unexpected way to hope.
As I counsel people of all ages, I hear far too many stories of unthinkable suffering, pain, and loss. I have wept with those who weep and mourned with those who mourn, feeling the depth of their pain. Suffering lashes against the deep roots of faith with a tenacious fierceness.
Often, the rawness of suffering thrusts us into the cavern of disappointment with God. Why didn’t He heal, save, or deliver? Where was He when we needed Him most? Questions swirl relentless and unanswered.
In Unmasking Myths: Is This Prayer?, those who have confronted their circumstances, bypassing disappointment with God, advise:
“God allows us to go through things to strengthen our faith and relationship with Him. Sometimes that thing is a desert; sometimes it is suffering.” (Lowell)
“The Lord is close to all whose hearts are crushed by pain, and he is always ready to restore the repentant one.”
Psalm 34:18 TPT
“Everyone needs to know God answers prayer, and that He is unquestionably good and faithful. Sometimes for reasons we don’t understand, however, we don’t see the answers we hope and believe for. When we fail to teach others about both God’s goodness and faithfulness along with the knowledge that He works beyond our understanding, we may hinder people’s faith … Circumstantial faith lacks the deep roots of knowing God’s goodness and faithfulness even if circumstances never change … Is our practice of prayer based on answers to prayer, or based on the character of God?” (Allison)
Along the unexpected path to hope, we discover God’s unchanging character — His love and absolute faithfulness in, through, and despite circumstances. He strengthens us in our weakness as we develop the perseverance necessary to walk through difficult seasons.
“In the hard places, He shows Himself as our everything.” (Emily)
When we least feel His presence, He draws near.
“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”
“One of the first things I heard God say to me was, ‘This was never the life I had for you. I have cried so many tears for you.’ That shook me!” (Shelly)
Out of perseverance, our character becomes strong and more like His. Then in the most unexpected way hope rises, like the fresh growth of spring after a long, cold winter.
“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.”
I’m not sure where each of you are along the journey of faith toward hope, but I would like to assist you in any way I can. God desires for each of us to “overflow with hope.” Though it may feel impossible today, God holds a better tomorrow for you.
Please forgive me for not following my “normal” blog format. As I prayed not only for these simple writings, but for each of you who would read them, I sensed an urgency in my spirit on your behalf.
First, let’s pray:
“God, You seem silent and distant. My emotions feel raw, and my heart torn open. I ask You to circle me with Your love. Open the eyes of my heart to sense Your Presence again and the ears of my spirit to hear the words You are speaking as I grope along the unexpected way to hope. I give You the brokenness of all I am. May I become increasingly sensitive to Your nearness. I declare my love for You. Show me how to rest waiting for Your love to cocoon me in this season, drawing me toward hope.”
Help On the Way
Second, I would like to offer you one or both of my books on prayer at half price
- Unmasking Myths: Is This Prayer? and/or
- Unlocking Legacy: Taking Your God-Given Territory Through Prayer
Enter the code “2023PRAYER” to receive the 50% discount. Then click the “Apply Coupon” button beside it.
Third, if you know someone who may also appreciate these books, please pass on the details. Too many around us have been suffering for too long without hope. Perhaps, this unexpected way will bring fresh and living hope to others.