Hope for the Bruised Soul
When Melissa asked if I would like to blog on “hope” as a theme for January 2022, my immediate response was, “Umm…no.” And then, I just left it awkwardly hanging there…like when your favorite song gets interrupted by the “BLURP! BLURP! BLURP!” of an emergency weather alert on the radio. I can’t help it – I’m honest and awkward (much like a weather alert system).
Obviously, I relented, and here we are!
If I were to be transparent, I'd have to admit: I don’t like talking about hope because those who thirst for hope most are the ones who usually feel that hope is the furthest away. Hope can feel painful when we are hurting. And that’s exactly why I didn’t want to write about hope. You see, I know those feelings of despair & hopelessness all too well.
And I know, when we are experiencing deep pain, hope feels cruel - like an unkind joke meant to punish the abandoned, forgotten, and hurting. The pain of Life can be sharp and unrelenting, and in our dusty frame, we begin to doubt a God who says He has loved us with an everlasting love. I’ve been there. I’ve doubted it all. And I am gutted at the memory, because some wrestling leaves us with a limp. Because of that, I would never want to be (as Job’s friends were) the one who would speak truths at the expense of not seeing someone’s pain. And many people who speak of hope, can inadvertently heap “hopeful” burdens upon those who are already burdened with despair.
There have been times that it hurt me to even try to hope for hope – if that makes any sense…? Although, I know there are people who know this feeling - who are feeling this feeling right now - and it makes perfect sense to them. Those are the people on my heart today.
So, if that’s where you are right now, and hope feels so far away…
If your pain is so great, that it feels as if it will swallow you whole…
If it feels as if you have been pressed down to the hollowed-out depths of your soul...
I simply want to say:
God is holding on to you.
Hope is based in the spiritual truth that because we cannot grasp Him fully and consistently, God must hold on to us. God Himself has made Himself to be our Hope, because there is nothing more consistent, more true, more wise, more enduring, or more powerful than Himself. And without these characteristics, there is no hope. Hope isn’t about our ability at all. Hope is about God’s faithful willingness to draw near to us with all that He is, because of our inability.
From the beginning of Time, God has come close to where we are, for the express purpose of rescuing us. He is the God hovering over the dark expanse and speaking all things into existence. Sealing covenants with Himself during Abram’s deep sleep. Wrestling with Jacob through the long night. Bursting upon Daniel’s sight with visions and interpretations beyond the natural world. Resting in a manger. Presenting His pierced hands and side to the Doubter. Arresting Paul’s soul on the road to Damascus. Escorting disciples and apostles to the ends of the earth. Meeting John with a great revelation. Promising us now that He will come near again at the end of the age. And until then, He abides within us.
God offers us Himself.
From the dawn of Time, God came near. Throughout the ages, He continued to come close to His creation. Even right now, through chaos and pain, He is coming near to His own. In the End, He will come with grace, and power, and truth one final time.
This is the hope that meets us when we are pressed down into darkest bedrock of our souls: God will come near to us again and again and again, because that is who He has always been, and that is who He will always be.
God is holding on to us because we cannot hold on to Him.
Hope is not for the strong, as a doctor is not for the healthy (Mark 2:17). Hope is for the humble – the one who truly comprehends their own helplessness and whose soul cries out, “Lord, have mercy on me!”
God is drawing near to us because we cannot reach Him.
Through it all. Across time, space, circumstance, and feelings; in the pain, in the confusion, and especially in the wrestling, Hope declares: “Even though! Even though! Even though!” like a war cry echoing throughout Eternity.
Even though the mountains may fall, and the earth give way, yet my steadfast love will remain. (Isaiah 54:10)
Hope declares this promise for you, wherever you are…and the echoes will continue forever.
Because in this promise is our only hope; this is the only reason for any hope at all: God has, does, and will come near to us.
Dear Bruised Soul,
no matter what you are facing...
God will hold on to you.