Earlier posts in this series:
Part 2: Moving from Lament to Hope
In December 2016 I learned the breast cancer had returned. I was embarking on a new “divine adventure”.
I felt like a walking contradiction.
My emotions were a strange mix of deep lament and deep hope.
In one moment, I wondered if my children’s story would be one without a mother. I wondered if Justin’s story would be one without a wife. These very real possibilities made me very very sad. I remember tossing and turning at night, praying for peace within the unknowns. I was so sad for my family and the difficult journey that could lie ahead for them.
There were also moments that I specifically remember where winds of overwhelming hope would blow through my soul. It would take me by surprise, and cause me to pause and wonder if I was delusional. It didn’t feel normal. This hope was not hope that I’d be ok, but rather hope that IT would be ok. See the difference?
At night I’d still have imaginary images that haunted me – images that clicked through like future motion pictures on the big-screen of my mind’s eye. I’d see Selah trying on wedding dresses without my encouragement, Hannah applying her prom makeup without my help, Samuel graduating high school without my obnoxious cheers from the audience. These thoughts made me cry. A lot. (They still do…)
But then, there it was again. The surprising winds of hope that it would be ok, actually better than just ok. That God was in this, as painful as the possibilities were. There was a bigger story being written here, and the end was good.
There is a misconception that lament and hope cannot coexist. We sometimes believe that hope means no tears or struggle. We mistakenly believe that if we have hope, we jump straight to the good, bypassing the hard.
We learn in Scripture that it is ok, even HOLY, to sit for a while in the lament. There is a whole book of the bible dedicated to Lamentations. We ought not move through the lament too quickly.
It is my experience that deep lament stretches my capacity for deep hope.
As the brokenness of this world intersects our lives we feel it very deeply…and that is sacred. Jesus felt deeply – He wept as He grieved the death of his friend Lazarus. He pleaded for God to remove the cup of suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Jesus is our perfect example as we seek to become comfortable with the tension of lament and hope dwelling together in the same soul. He asked for God to remove His suffering, but persevered for the joy set before Him. He IS Hope.
As we deeply feel the brokenness of this world, we can deeply experience the hope of the One who has overcome this brokenness.
Lament births sorrow; hope births joy. The apostle Paul tells us to be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” (2 Corinthians 6:10) Lament and joy can co-exist. It’s an uncomfortable tension that will only be resolved when our journey on earth is complete.
As we desire to move from lament to hope, there are two essential spiritual disciplines which gather soul kindling to spark hope:
- Saturating your mind in God’s Word
- Covering your circumstances in prayer
God’s Word and prayer, wrapped in the context of community, are beautiful gifts that God gives us and can come alongside as we move from lament to hope.
In the next couple of blog posts, I’ll unpack each of these, and get very practical about what it’s looked like in my life. I’ll share what I’ve found helpful and I pray it encourages you as you seek to find hope in the middle of your own unfinished story.