“We put our hope in the Lord,
He is our help and our shield
In Him our hearts rejoice,
For we trust in His holy name.
Let your unfailing love surround us Lord,
For our hope is in You alone.” (Psalm 33:20-22, NLT)
Not long ago, after my good friend Kimberly (the founder of Well Christian Woman) passed away, I sat down for my evening time of reading and prayer, and opened to this passage.
I read it, reread it and forced myself to copy it down in my journal. It took a while, as I was shaky and tears were streaming down my face. I wrote it down, and then I read it again, slowly, underlining as I did. hope. help. shield. trust. unfailing. hope.
Two things have struck me over the past weeks as we have been grieving the loss of a remarkable friend, mother, wife, and woman of God. The first is the incredible depth of sadness. Moments of pain and sorrow so intense that they have taken my breath away.
I was driving home one day after dropping my children off at a friend’s and before I even realized what I was doing I turned my car into the cemetery and found myself at Kimberly’s gravesite, sitting in the grass and sobbing, unable to bring myself to leave. The deep sense of loss is sometimes so raw that it feels like an actual wound.
The second, and even more powerful reality that has struck me is the ever-present hope and beautiful sense of God’s love and peace that has permeated every moment of such deep and profound sorrow.
“We do not grieve like those who have no hope…”
What is our source of hope? Our comfort? Where do we place our trust? Over the years, if I was honest with myself I would have to say that I have put my hope in many things: in my career and financial security, in the love and support of my friends, in the joy and happiness that my husband and children bring. And God, of course. He was always part of that list. As an add-on. As a last resort when the other sources of comfort and happiness failed me.
“Our hope is in You alone.”
In You alone. There is no other source that is worthy of our hope – nothing that can sustain us like the love of God. Nothing. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33) and He wasn’t kidding. There is joy to be had in this life but there is also pain so deep that it can literally knock the ground out from under you if you do not have a firm foundation to stand on.
There is so much beauty and joy that we can experience from the blessings of this world, from family and friends and experiences. The question is: what do you do when those blessings let you down, or disappear entirely? And they can. Financial troubles, family conflict, disloyal friends, health troubles, death… these are all realities of life in this imperfect world.
When we put our hope in what is temporary or uncertain, our happiness will always be conditional upon our circumstances. We will never have true peace. But a hope in our Good Father whose unfailing love will see us through any storms in this life and gives us the promise of something so much richer after this world – that is real hope.
Kimberly had this hope. She faced the loss of health and leaving those she loved most dearly, and yet had hope and peace that surpassed those unthinkable circumstances. A hope that is based on our unchanging God and His unfailing love. A hope that protects us from the fear that comes from relying on the unreliable, from depending on the undependable, ever-changing things of this world. That is real hope.
As I learn more about what it means to truly hope in Him alone, I pray that whatever we are going through, we can all experience this real hope in Him.
In your never-ending love
You work everything for good,
God whatever comes my way
I will trust you.” (Sovereign by Christ Tomlin)