The Hope Journey Begins

She asked us to write down our word.
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 these 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 word 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.
What I need is 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 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 what the commentator wrote:
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 find the beginning? Did they try and try in their own power to bring it back? And just grow even more tired?
That’s how it feels to give up on hope.
My eyes are hungry for Isaiah now. What does he say to these hope-less people?

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.
In Chapter 44 there is this:

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 do 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 in over and over, like a punished school child writing 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…

And He whispers in my ear I am your hope.

And He is enough.

This
is the hope
that is twice
dead;
laughter
from
barren womb.
this–
dead branch
in
my heart
sprouts anew,
manna for
shriveled soul.
resurrection comes
in
form of
words
and I
am shed of
this onus
though
it leaves a
deep lapidary
well, sharp
on edges begging
fingers to find
it’s empty
shell
and rub.
I am
carved
out;
empty.
Hazo asks,
what is left,
then, but
to live
with wounds?
yes, I say,
what?
yet,
over and over
this belly
fire returns.
hope.
I hope
still

Bonnie asked us to write about hope this week–my word for 2011. This is a re-post from my archives, with a little twist. My hope journey has begun. I lost some in 2010. There were too many nos, too many disappointments, too many dreams lost. But He whispers this to me now…I am your hope. And it gives me a strange sense of joy. And I know it is true.

Join us over at Faith Barista for more hope stories.

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I am also sharing with the Imperfect Prose Community over at Emily’s today. You guys bless tremendously! 

Comments

  1. says

    Wow, just about the only thing I can think to say! “How does one find hope again?…The Lord’s” A question and answer that will stick to me for the next few days.

  2. says

    He WILL fill you up with Hope! I just believe it. It is yours, because you are His. You love so deeply that you pay a high price for each day. I have a daughter who walks the same path. Her heart is so large. When she feels joy, it is so exquisite it hurts. Conversely, when she is grieving over something or someone who is hurting, she actually can be in physical pain. It costs her much to love so fiercely. And it can sometimes take her to a seemingly hopeless place. When she arrives there, I always have to point her back to worship because that is where she finds her center, her Center. And after she spends time gazing into His Face, her joy and hope return. Lifting your heart to Him. . .

  3. says

    It will come…it is yours already but there are seasons where we don’t sense it….been there. I didn’t know how to find my way back…how to find hope again. God knew…He saw my heart, knew my desire…He is doing the work and it is SO AMAZING to come out of that quiet spot that felt so dark. But through it all He was with me…coals burning bright, flames raw to my being…purifying. It will emerge and continue to grow and you will be in awe.

  4. says

    This makes me want to sit with you and give you a hug and say I understand.
    I came to a place of despair and the only way out was hope. Hope took form when I trusted that He really was all He said He was and that He really would do all He had promised. Sometimes it washes away even from my heart, but it returns because the only other place is despair. And he is not there.

  5. says

    He does give hope to the hopeless, and somehow I think He uses that hopeless place to show us just where hope lies.

    PS – I’d like to have a book that’s filled up with your poetry…

  6. says

    Oh yes, Laura! God is our hope! Sometimes we “forget” that truth but when we continually come to Him and open our hearts, He reminds us. Thanks for the encouraging post!

    My hope is in the Lord!
    Joan

  7. says

    I like that line where you talked about the writing coming off of your hand. It’s amazing when we write the Lord’s Words in our hearts that somehow when we need them they fly up from the depths of our hopelessness and refresh us like sunlight coming through a dirty window.

  8. says

    The rough thing about showing up late to a post is that all the really amazing things have already been said. That’s when I start looking for the little checkbox so I can just say, “What ___ said.”

    Like Nance. And Deidra. And especially Susan.

  9. says

    i remember this post, and it’s one of my favorites of yours. i’m so glad you reposted, because i needed the reminder. my days are busy like yours–may we never forget, dear friend. clinging to him, with you.

  10. says

    I remember reading this post the first time. And right after, I read Isaiah, and I looked for that hand passage. I needed hope, too — mine had run close to dry. It ebbs and flows, doesn’t it? Why is that? Is it a lack of trust in Him? I am reading Ann Voskamp’s book right now, and she is helping me answer some of these questions (I think). It’s hard to change a stubborn heart, yes?

  11. says

    I love Isaiah–so wonderfully strong and poetic. So full of hope. Thanks for writing this. You and Isaiah will have a great time hanging out together in eternity!

  12. says

    The hope is for those who have no hope. If it was washed away, if you can’t write it on your heart, He knows your dust. And hope that is seen, Laura, is not hope at all. Rest, rejoice. He is our hope.

  13. says

    Dear Laura, I also am nursing a soul-ache. Your post was spoke so close to me, I felt you were speaking right into me. How can someone speak so softly carry a voice that can penetrate so deeply. It is the poet and the soul survivor in you, my friend.

    There are days that no concordance, how thorough can bring back words of hope to my spirit.

    “I only wish that if I wrote in over and over, like a punished school child writing 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…

    And He whispers in my ear I am your hope.”

    It is there in the barren, that I wait each time. And it’s dumbfounding that I can doubt each time before I heard His voice and yet, it feels as equally miraculous and gut-wrenchingly grateful that I can every time.

    I love this ode to the hard-to-speakable place, where He is and we are. This was a premium brew. Thank you.

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