"Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again." - 2 Corinthians 1:9-10, ESV
When trials come, do you tend to blame God, run away from him, or turn to him? Sometimes I do all three. The mentality of, “I’m a child of God, so why am I experiencing this?” runs through our minds. So, we stomp our feet and demand God fix it like a little toddler throwing a tantrum. Other times, we turn away from faith in him. Sometimes we turn to our religious duties of church and decide relationship with God is too risky, so we keep him at arm’s length.
Hopelessness creeps into our hearts and leaves barrenness in its wake. It strips us of spiritual growth and tempts us to think we are all alone. We reach for independence and self-sufficiency and tuck our disappointments into a little box in our hearts. Call me an incurable optimist, but when things seem hopeless, I search for treasure. It’s messy and hard, but sometimes it’s found when I open the box of my unmet expectations because God shows me how he’s there in the good times and the bad.
We don’t have to let hopelessness define the situation. God can use our circumstances in our life to refine us if we allow him to draw us to him, have eyes to see him, and ears to hear him. Even though turning away from him can be a natural response to our pain, the best response is to turn toward him. Asking him our hard questions and letting him answer them in whatever way he deems right for us is one way we can exchange hopelessness for hope.
Our perspective on the purpose of trials may need refinement. God doesn’t waste our hurts and disappointments. At times this is so hard to believe because the devastation we feel overwhelms us. We ask, “How can we trust God if he allows so much pain?” The answer to this is to look to Jesus and the cross. We can remember what Jesus experienced and realize that redemption comes through pain. When we choose to put our hope in him in the middle of our pain, God helps us exchange hopelessness for hope.
Self-sufficiency and independence are helpful traits until they lead us away from reliance on God. Our strength is insufficient for our todays. But when we can walk through this life with our hope planted in God, we begin to rely on him in new ways. We discover his guidance and his encouragement. He becomes our peace in the chaos. He is our rest when we’re weary. When we surrender to him, we discover immeasurable hope.
In this passage from 2 Corinthians, Paul relates the devastating circumstances that led him to feel as though hope was lost. Paul experienced desperate times. He was shipwrecked, stoned, slandered, imprisoned, and yet, he continues to urge believers to hope in God. Even those who are faithful and obedient in their walk with God will sometimes face circumstances that threaten their hope.
When these kinds of things happen, we don’t have to believe that God has abandoned us. Instead, we can remember how severe troubles have happened to God’s faithful people throughout history. These men and women can show us how relying on God grows our testimony of his goodness and faithfulness in our lives. When we recall how God is with us through it all, he gives us the hope to endure. He brings us through it. We only need to look to him in faith.
Holy God, I feel hopeless. I don’t know how I’m going to make it through. My world has crumbled, and I am reeling from devastating disappointments. I need you more than ever. I’m sorry for accusing you of abandoning me. Please forgive me for looking to myself or others for hope. You are there. You are for me. Would you please fill me with your hope and help me fix my eyes on you? I love you and want to live for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen
Jessica Van Roekel loves the upside-down life of following Jesus as she journeys to wholeness through brokenness. As an author, speaker, and worship leader, she uses her gifts and experiences to share God’s transformative power to rescue, restore, and renew. She longs for you to know that rejection doesn’t have to define or determine your future when placed in God’s healing hands. Find out more reframingrejectionbook.com You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.
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