Hope has become kind of a scary thing to me...
When you hope, you allow yourself to "eagerly anticipate" something...which can set you up for some pretty big disappointment when things don't turn out quite like you had "hoped" that they would. I've experienced a lot of pretty big let downs, and I think I've allowed myself to come to a point where I just don't even want to have any expectations any more. It's better to just not have any dreams at all to save yourself a horrible crash of disappointment, right? No. Wrong. Very wrong. Even if you say you're not hoping for something, it just makes you a bitter wait-er, rather than a hopeful anticpator. I don't want to be bitter and negative, but I also don't know how much more disappointment my heart can handle. Do you ever get to that point, too?
So, today, I found myself thinking about all of this (I've had a lot of time to think about things lately since I've been recovering from my laparoscopy) and I felt God speak so clearly to my heart:
"Don't be afraid to hope, Paula-Beth."
I had to sit and chew on those words for a moment, and then I realized that I've been basing my definition of hope on the outcome I desire for my circumstances. But I've had it all wrong-the outcome of my circumstances does not define hope. You see, I have to come to a place where I am willing to give my hopes and dreams FULLY to God. I can't just say, "God, here are my hopes and dreams. Give me the patience to wait on you for them." No, I have to come to a point where I surrender those hopes and dreams to Him and allow HIM to do with them as HE pleases, not as I desire. I have to learn to trust that His path is truly perfect and if things don't end up looking like I had "hoped" that they would, it doesn't mean my hopes have come crashing down. It just means that my hopes don't always look the same way through His perfect vision.
One of my favorite passages has become Romans 5:1-5. In that passage we read that "Hope does NOT disappoint us..." And that is what God is teaching me right now. He is reminding me that when my hopes are placed in His hands, He will never disappoint, because His plans for me are so much greater and bigger than I could ever dream up. He is teaching me to praise Him through the storms, because these aren't my hopes and dreams anymore--they are HIS, and when I place them in His hands, I can "eagerly anticipate" the outcome my loving Heavenly Father has in store for me.
So, I'm learning to rejoice in the hope I can have in my Lord, and I'm eagerly anticipating all He has in store for me!