“A few years ago, I conducted a survey of women at various stages in life and with different beliefs. I wanted to know which felt more important to them – faith, hope or love. I figured every single woman would say, ‘Of course, it is love.’
The answers astonished me. They all said, ‘Hope.’
‘Why?’ I asked one woman.
She explained it well. ‘Faith comes and goes, and I have learned to live without love. But hope – if I didn’t have hope, I would die. There would be no reason to live.’
How I identified. If hope didn’t exist, I would have crumbled in impossible situations. If hope meant nothing, comfort could not have comforted me. Romans 15:13 says, ‘May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ For us to find comfort, God gives us hope.”
Just recently I went back to visit a place where I experienced great pain. I didn’t know what to expect, but I certainly didn’t think I would come away amazed. For, I learned that a place has nothing to do with pain – it is the person who caused that pain.
It was such a simple and obvious realization, yet it helped me narrow down my grief. For, grief has a way of taking over life, of putting a dark filter over our eyes, but grief is much more specific than a general sad fog. And I learned this because the place where I had been hurt was now beautiful and loved. It was cared for. A place where people lived in peace.
I am deeply thankful to God for this experience and wanted to share it with you. Maybe you too have found the same…
For many days I stood by the tomb of an adventure I led for six years. I loved the journey and the people I walked with, but it had been passed onto others. Yet I still wept.
As I remained there, with my Bible open, I read a verse that gave me direction. “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:6)
As others take on my old adventure, Jesus is calling me to another. But I have no idea where. It is like a spiritual hide-and-seek, an anxious fun as I peer behind trees, into chests, and obscure places.
I know that I will find Jesus in the place he wants me, in the adventure he has for me.
Derek just finished leading the Navigators UK. Eight good years, and I thank God from the bottom of my heart. Derek did such a good job.
Yet, for all this joy, I grieve. I cared for the people we worked with – deeply. Prayed for them. Hoped for them. And now it is over, even though that care for them keeps flowing.
So, in desperation I look to Jesus, and he reminds me of this – he is the author and perfecter* of my life and theirs. All of us are turning the page to the next chapter in our lives. All of us wait with bated breath. But as our lives diverge, we are in good hands, for Jesus knows what happens next. He has our stories mapped out.
We may have done everything properly as we grieved:
Gone through the five stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance*.
Committed our broken hearts to God and asked him to heal us.
Trusted him for our future, that he would help us through.
We moved on… but then something happened to remind us. A conversation. A situation. An emotion. And we grieved yet again.
I have learned to lay each flashback at Jesus’ feet, to sit with him in the night for as long as I need. I have learned to accept his precious promises as my own. “The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm” (Zephaniah 3:15). We don’t have to be afraid. Jesus is with us. We can get up and live.
This spring I witnessed a river in flood. The ground shook. The noise of crashing water filled the air. Yet one HUGE boulder stood up above the flood. Sure, it had been worn smooth with centuries of troubles, but it stood its ground. It refused to budge.
I gazed at this rock and thought, “This is life. We get battered and overwhelmed, but we can still stand strong.” For, “When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down… Because I am God, your personal God… your Saviour.” (Isaiah 43:2-3) God holds us tight.
He won’t let us get swept away. He won’t let any of those troubles intimidate us. In him we can stand. In him we are safe, no matter the size of flood.
It was cold. Oak leaves lay frozen in a puddle, unable to escape. I stopped and grieved. That was exactly how I felt about something precious to me. It too had been captured.
Then a thought came. “Look up!” An oak tree overshadowed me. Another thought. “Don’t be sad. That oak tree will produce many more leaves! So can you!” Isaiah 61:3 says, “… provide for those who grieve in Zion… They will be called oaks of righteousness… for the display of his splendor.”