"Hope deferred makes the heart sick...” Proverbs 13:12a NIV
I often make the snarky comment, “If I knew how selfish I was, I never would have had children”.
Now, in my defense, I think I’ve come to realize that there are times when motherhood really hurts. Nothing, and I mean nothing, could have prepared me for the highs and lows of being a mother.
In reality, a mother's love was meant to hurt. A love this deep bears the weight of all our hopes and dreams. It carries with it the risk of a broken heart.
I have come to find in all my years of mothering that hope comes in two distinct packages.
Hope-full-ness or Hope-less-ness
We experience hopefulness with the joyful news that we are expecting a baby or when that baby announces he got accepted into the college of his dreams. We are hopeful when our daughter comes home wearing an engagement ring and Mr. Right attached to her arm. Hopefulness is a cause for celebration, and life is worth celebrating, isn’t it?
These cherished seasons of hopefulness can be interrupted without warning. An unexpected knock on the door or a middle-of-the night phone call silences our celebration with words no parent should ever have to hear. For me, addiction has brought with it hopelessness in the form of many unexpected and unwanted nighttime interruptions.
Soon our dreams and hopes turn into desperate prayers to heal them, to save them, and, in some cases, just keep them alive for one more day. Dreams turn to despair. Hopes are deferred.
Hopelessness is like a sucker-punch to the gut. It takes our breath away. It has the power to leave us void of any feelings, numb. Painfully numb. Pain seems to be our constant companion. We do not know how to find comfort when hope hurts.
As believers, we have a gift in this pain. This pain has the ability to draw us back to hope, a hope that can only be found in the presence of our Lord. It has the power to set us free from ourselves. When we face this kind of hopelessness, we have only one choice, to look up and cry out the name of Jesus. His love is there increasing our faith and inspiring us to hope again.
"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us to develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope does not disappoint. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." Romans 5:3-5 NLT
Finding our way back to a place of hope means crawling out of the pit of hopeless despair. This is not easy when we are hurting and exhausted. Transforming a hopeless heart begins with believing that that God has a purpose for our pain. It means believing there is a purpose for our child's pain, as well. That can be a hard pill to swallow.
To truly transform a hopeless heart, we need to have faith.
"Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see." Hebrews 11:1 NLT
Faith can only be found when we look beyond our current hopeless circumstance and believe that God's plan and purpose will not fail. He is at work in our children's lives. He is watching over our loved ones. An active faith means we speak words of hope and faith, even if we don't always feel like it, and then we act on them.
Doubt and despair leave us curled up on the couch in the fetal position. Faith and hope believe in the Big Picture even if we cannot see it. As we begin to hope again, our hearts are comforted. We are not alone in this fight. Our Lord sends his Spirit to comfort us as we cry out to him.
"And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we do not know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words." Romans 8:26 NLT
It's not always easy to know how to find comfort when hope hurts, but the Spirit of God knows what we need when we need it. He gently reminds us that we are loved and seen. Our children are not forgotten. His eye is always on them.
Yes, hope hurts, but it also transforms. In the midst of the pain, let us strive to keep this truth in mind:
"For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 NLT
For so many moms motherhood brings with it a burden beyond their ability to bear if not for your presence to comfort and carry them. Lord, we pray that we will not stay in a place of hopelessness. We know that hope hurts at times, but we still choose to stay hopeful because we trust in you. We thank you that you blessed us with motherhood. In Jesus name.