surely you will see the wasteland bloom.
How can this be? How could a God…why would a good God…?
The questions come out in hoarse screams in the night, when your fists pound and clench, tight and hard. You feel too weak to fight against the corrodible nature of fear and anger.
Sometimes it feels good to sit here, and make misery your bedfellow. It feels good to cry and hiccup. I have lingered in this place of crumpled sheets and wet pillowcases, where hope is deferred and everything is an impossibility. It never felt good. I told my broken heart that it was dangerous to have hope when grief was beckoning. I silenced Bravery, and stood with fear.
I felt that my hope no longer had a name, my hope felt weak and incapable. I wanted to spit the words at Him.
Unbeknownst to me, in the still and dark of every night, He let the dawn stretch forth, faithfully and with purpose. The early light of day peered through the single pane windows and my house hummed to life. The world moved on and on, alive and rolling.
Life clings, even in the barren places, the hungry places where we feel heartsick, homesick, bone tired.
Hope can be deferred, but Hope is not dead.
Lazarus and Sarah sang it to anyone who would listen. This is what Hope did for me, even when I was barren, even when I sank into death.
Think of the miraculous conception of a child, after years of trying and failing. There’s a yelp of disbelief when you discover your blood is doubling to feed a tiny human, deep within the dark of your body.
Hope, for new life, when the womb declares your walls barren, is nearly impossible to hold onto. When silence fills that room and the ultrasound image sighs long and still before you, you feel close to crumbling. Something tells you to hold on, even when it hurts. Months and years of letdown, and then, two pink lines, and life clings. A desire fulfilled, and the tree of life blooms. (Proverbs 13:12)
Think of the throbbing veins as they receive the chemical concoction of chemotherapy just one more time. The pricks and face masks and long hospital stays make a spirit worn.
Hope, for new life, when the body made to thrive starts to shut down and wear thin, is nearly impossible to cling to. Still, you hold fast, anchored to the rhythm of grace, while the wasteland seems prairie flat, endless. Months and years of heartache and pain, and then, color comes back and hair regrows. Freedom sinks it’s teeth into the holy ache where death hovered.
Even when treatments fail and babies never come, when death devours, hope might only come in the stillness, when it hurts. The push through a chronic illness, a funeral, a job loss, an addiction, it is never easy, and no “have faith” and “keep strong” cheers will help.
But, this is where true hope comes alive, in the murky depths and the gray of depression. I never knew what hope was until I found myself in with the stones at the bottom of the well. It took time for hope to grow, but in the drafty, damp places, hope was cultivated, fertilized by salt tears and the prayers of those holding me up.
Hope hollers in the fallow places, bangs around in that worn heart of yours. It is chained to you, come heavy winds and waves.
You will not sink.
In hunger and the waiting, we are the blessed ones. This is what He sings over us! He calls us by name: poor in spirit, mourner, meek one, justice seeker, you are blessed. Blessed to receive, taste, see, experience hope.
Hope came and laid His body on the slivered wood, nailed your wails for justice into His palms. Our questions came in a raging storm, the hate and the ache, the desperation of a world groaning for redemption, every piece settled upon Him.
The broken things crowned His head, the weight of the world pressed the thorns into flesh. As the hot blood dripped to the dust, Hope said: it is finished.
I will restore to you double, I will rebuild the broken heart, repair the tattered wings, cover the grave with the warmth of my love.
Hope is made real when we ache, and if hope is made real, then the source of this hope is made real. We may feel like we are losing the battle, but the war has already been won. He will return the missing pieces, patch the gashed wounds.
He will restore.
This is his promise.
“Return to your place of comfort and safety, where your heart is secure, O prisoners of hope. I announce today that I, the Lord, will restore to you twice as much as what was taken.” – Zechariah 9:12