A Hope Burden

She asked us to write down our heavy.

…bring the burden from the dark into the light.

It shouldn’t be so hard. So why this lump in my throat? I know the particular battle I have been facing. Have even named it. But when I write down those words— tie letters together in loopy lines—they loom large.

How does one find hope again?

I know all the right answers. I’ve used my concordance. The NIV has 174 verses containing the root hope.

I’ve been reading through. In turns, the verses buoy me then fill me with despair. I know what scripture says about hope. I know where my hope is. But lately…my heart doesn’t.

I need a heart change. And there’s no easy way to get that.

I write the prayer out and close my Bible study book. I pick up the other Book…pick up where I’ve left off. I’ve been reading through the Bible in a year, using one of those online plans that make sure you proceed through in a sensible order. These past weeks have found me in Isaiah.

My eyes follow the passage and then drop below to read the commentary. This has been my practice—listening first with my heart and then with my mind. This day my eyes bulge as I read the commentator notes:


Isaiah spoke by inspiration to people who had lost hope.

A whole book written for those who felt this soul-ache of hopelessness? Did they feel this heavy burden of tired? Sorrow so deep my finger can’t trace through to the beginning? Did they try and try in their own power to bring it back? And just grow even more tired?

This is how it feels to give up on hope.

My eyes are hungry for Isaiah now. What does he say to these hope-less people?

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in…


He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40)

I ponder what these words mean. Savor their strength. Grasp for it…search for a small kindling of hope.

I read on.

Chapter 44:

I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
They will spring up like grass in a meadow,
like poplar trees by flowing streams.
One will say, “I belong to the Lord”;
another will call himself by the name of Jacob;
still another will write on his hand, “The Lord’s”,
and will take the name Israel.

So I do it. I write it on my hand.

Then I fix breakfast for the boys, pack their lunches and take them to school. I run six miles and come home to walk Lucy Mae another. I take a shower and run to Charleston. I shop four hours for the perfect bookshelf that I never find. But I do find a suitcase I desperately need for an upcoming trip. I get caught in traffic on the way home. I vacuum the entire downstairs and mop the kitchen floor. I do three loads of laundry. I check over Jeffrey’s math homework and help him identify five news items each for local, regional, and world news.

At dinner, I remember.

And I look down at my hand.

The words are gone. They’ve slipped away. Somewhere between dirty mop water and a pile of clean underwear, I think. And I feel my heart sink.

Not because the words I have written on my hand have disappeared, but because I know that I must write them on my heart. And not giving them a thought all day…where IS my heart?

I only wish that if I wrote it over and over, like a naughty school child doing lines on the blackboard, that it would be true.

My hope is in the Lord.
My hope is in the Lord.
My hope is in the Lord…

I know that busy takes my eyes off of Him. I struggle. Life gets to me sometimes. I am praying forgiveness and hope this week, my friends. Will you please pray them too? And maybe for some of that strength that flies on wings like eagles?

Yes. That would be nice.

Thank you, sweet friends.

I am waiting.

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
He rises to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18)

Comments

  1. says

    Oh Laura…I could have written this about my last 7 years. And let me tell you when revelation delivers you and sets you free YOU WILL KNOW HOPE…..few circumstances of my life have changed but God took me to the END OF MYSELF….I did not care, I had no hope, I couldn’t even hardly cry out anymore….but He knew, He noticed. He told a woman to call me…we had never been friends really…but in obedience she called…we spent 5 hours together…hardly talking about my life YET HE NOTICED and He released to my vision what He has been at work behind the scenes for all these years. Oh how wonderous…oh how long I waited….oh Laura…when He reveals you will be stunned and in awe…I knew a lot…clung to His Word…yet until He breathed life to my dry bones…none brought the life, the answers I needed. But He noticed, He saw, He was at work….and I am in awe. So looking forward to see what He does….hope is breathtakingly beautiful and precious. Praying for your journey!

  2. says

    The verse that ministered hope to me was Romans 15:13 Laura.
    Hope and trust linked together. When if was finally able to trust, really trust in spite of circumstances, hope and peace flooded in. It caught me unaware. He had promised, but I still didn’t imagine it could happen to me. I thought hope and joy and peace were gone forever.
    But God….keeps His promises. I will be praying for you dear one.

  3. says

    So glad I stopped by tonight. You ALWAYS make me cry. That never changes. I just love this post.

    I find myself wishing my day had been half as productive. I find myself wishing I wouldn’t forget the words on my heart either.

    I’ll be praying for you sweet friend. Beautiful words!

    PS I know this was months ago but I just read Thin Places and saw you won the Kindle. That’s so cool =)

  4. says

    I’ve always thought that being without hope is being at the end of your rope. When I’m there I often go back to Matthew 5:3 in the Message version of the Bible. “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.”
    Praying for you that your hope will spring anew. My you find blessing in this place of emptiness. Thank you for being so open, honest and vulnerable. ~Jessica

  5. says

    Cassandra,
    I guess Carl Sandburg says it much better, huh? It’s the human condition, yes. Thanks for this. There is beauty in this mutual longing.

  6. says

    yes, i will…and there are days, months when i walked in a desert and i gave up hope…even then he sustained me, we never went hungry…and now we are on the backside of it and i still need to write it on my heart daily..

  7. says

    Laura – This is beautiful and raw. And it speaks so much truth. Truth that sometimes we do feel despair and no hope. Why do you feel that you must force yourself to overcome this? What’s wrong with lingering in it, letting your soul and mind and body brood in its darkness, because maybe that in itself is where you will find hope? Without really looking for it? I’ve been reading Parker Palmer, and he has some powerful things to say about the necessity of the dark periods for growth of the soul.

    Don’t be so hard on yourself. But thanks for sharing this. It’s important stuff.

  8. says

    Laura, I’ve prayed.

    Have to chime in here just a little with Bradley if I might. Not that I don’t imagine you haven’t already considered the value of staying with the thing a while, letting the process run its course (knowing what you do all day, it’s at least crossed your mind, this I know 🙂 Anyway, it seems you’re already doing that, to have reached the point where this revelation about Isaiah, God’s intent in breathing those words, would take hold as they have.

    There is hope. I’m confident you know this. I’m also confident you’ll find each other, you and she. But meanwhile don’t be too afraid to sit with it and let Him do His work through it.

    This is for you, I think: light. As in Psalm 139 light. (see esp. vs. 10-11) The dark and I are well acquainted. But He meets me there too.

    Praying some more, friend. Been missing out on you while I’ve been otherwise occupied. Blessings to you this weekend.

  9. says

    My head is so bowed…

    My heart is full with every word you wrote and the photos…

    Beautiful, humbling, precious in so many ways.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Love and blessings.

  10. gretchen g. says

    You chose to find and name this burden and know it for what it is. This takes strength of character to be willing to grapple with the issues for what they are and knowing that it can bring on heartfelt despair. Equally, to reveal the depth of that fraility to others indicates great willingness to expose your vulnerabilites. Many would not do so. With the depths of darkness… I would say, this gives way to the greater appreciation of lighter and the more joyful moments.

  11. says

    That last verse you shared… it gives me peace. Whether you feel or believe it or know it or not, you are His.

    Our Hope is a Person, who lives interceding for us before the throne of God.

    I think it is okay to rest.

  12. says

    Oh, Laura. I’ve been there. I know this dark night, the deep soul sorrow ache, the numbness and hopelessness.

    http://sandraheskaking.com/2009/08/dark-nights-of-the-soul/

    I wrote this over a year ago. It was transferred from my first blog. Not great writing, but maybe you can draw some strength from it.

    Maybe the handwriting disappeared because you need to let go–to let him write? And it’s a pretty cool “accident” that you just happen to be reading in Isaiah. 🙂

    Your heart is beautiful. The hope will return.

    Rest.

    XOXO

  13. says

    Dear Laura~How did you know that I needed encouragement today? Thank you for stopping by my blog and posting the sweetest sentiment … It was timely! You are a very special lady! I have missed you terribly!
    Hope your Sunday is totally awesome!
    Blessings, sweet friend!
    Cheri

  14. says

    Praying for your hope, for mine, and for all of us who’ve lost our edge where our kingdom conferment resides.

    We are the blood-bought children of God. We stand alongside the ancients of old, the “Isaiah’s” of Scripture, fighting for the truth. We stand alongside God’s own Son, administering the mystery… the good news… Christ in us, the hope of glory. He paid a high price for our pitiful flesh, and he does not want us to lose hope.

    He wants to be our Hope.

    Keep writing him across your heart, sweet friend, and I will do the same. Together we will live this week with Hope; not apart from him.

    peace~elaine

  15. says

    Saw your comment over at Emily’s place…and now I read this. And I just want you to know my heart is wide open for you. I feel your pain, live your hopelessness. But we are both in it together with God, even when He feels distant and foggy. I know that, although I admit, sometimes I don’t feel it in my heart.

    Lifting you up, friend — as you have been lifting me these days…

    I think I will start Isaiah too (don’t even know if I spelled that right…all those a’s and i’s — I have never read that book).

  16. says

    Laura… i wrote you an email and then came here, where i cried, because i’m longing with you–different circumstance, same hunger–for this deepset hope, and wondering, where is it? and how/when does God answer? and how to keep doing while hopeless? friend, you writing this was brave and i will join in the throng praying for you and with you, because no matter our circumstance, he IS. and he WILL. and all, in love. thank you for this gift tonight, for being you, and for offering your heart with such vulnerability. God hears.

  17. says

    Oh my….dear Laura. I’ve not been here in a while……and I’ll be honest why. Have been engulfed in FB and it’s games. How stupid and unnecessary is that! The Lord’s already spoken to me about it, and I know I will have to put it aside, to do the better thing, which is study God’s Word. Oh,don’t misunderstand, my husband and I read Bible together, but it’s not the same as when the Lord would awaken me on the “4th watch” to give me new and glorious nuggets from his Word. I feel ashamed, that once again I have allowed those powers and principalities to make yet another sneak attack on my being…….my spiritual being.
    And again, I find myself in that state of chagrin….and hopelessness. Will I ever learn?
    I talk to the Lord all the time, He already knows what I’m going through and His words always engulf me with peace and hope, as long as I continue to read them over and over.
    I really do not know you that well, but felt compelled to write you as I think a lot of us (as was obvious from reading the comments) are going through especially dry periods in our lives.
    I have been in church ministry practically all of my life, since a teenager. It became clear to me when in the 11th grade that God was calling me to full-time work in music in the church. And so, for some 40 years, every Sunday I have played the old hymns, played new hymns………gone through the madness with the congregations over traditional vs. contemporary. When what it all boils down to is: “Give Me Jesus”!
    Even when we’re walking through the “valley of the shadow of death”, He is with us……a shadow cannot be cast with light.
    But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I truly began to WORSHIP him as I was playing. I found out the deeper meaning of “all other ground is sinking sand”; “what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer”; “when nothing else could help, Love lifted me!”; “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold”; “You are my hiding place”; “I love you Lord, and I lift my voice to worship you”; “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me”……and I could go on and on and on. I no longer play these songs in a routine manner. I guess what I’m trying to say is, right now, the only time I’m totally happy and fulfilled is when I’m worshipping Him.
    Our minds are being attacked, of that I have no doubt. If Satan can’t distract you in one way, he will seek another. Joyce Meyers’ “Battlefield of the Mind” has been such a great comfort to me through the years. I have read it, re-read it, along with the Bible and other books she has written.
    You can be sure I will lift you up dear in prayer and ask for a great breakthrough of joy, peace and hope for you. Lovingly in Christ

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