Hope is a funny thing.
Generally speaking, I'm essentially what you would classify as an optimist. I see hope even in the blackest situation. I feel within my core that there is always a way. That Love will win. That Good will triumph. That Truth will always come to light.
I know that this is part of my character because it is something innate that God has placed within me. He has given us an eternal Hope. A Hope that always wins. But sometimes I place my hope in idols, and idols always disappoint.
It's hard to admit that something that was/is good has become an idol. Maybe it's your job, your family, your money, or, in my case, your spouse. To place something above God, whether willfully, or out of complacency, fear, laziness, I don't know… different days, different reasons. To place your hopes and your trust in something that God has made instead of the Maker is unfortunately not hard to do.
Ever the optimist, ever the hopeful and naive one, I've felt hope even after the first divorce papers were filed. Hope that he would change his mind. Hope that he would love me. Hope that he would fight for me. Hope that he'd finally see me, like really truly see me, and see that I was worth whatever it took. And the voices of people around me telling me that there is still hope- that marriages have been saved from the brink many times- to not give up. To hold onto hope. The voices fueled my optimism. My misguided hope.
But hope in what, exactly? Or more precisely, hope in Whom? Hope in my husband who has given not a single shred of effort to save our marriage in the last six months? Hope in a man who is bound and determined to never look back? I find myself hoping in him sometimes, even now. "Somewhere, maybe down really deep, he's still in there. He's just scared. Or proud. Or ashamed. He won't actually do this. He won't actually rip himself from me and leave me alone in the world. He wouldn't do that." But that hope is wrong. That hope is a lie. And an idol. And it's completely misplaced.
Yes. Marriages have come back from the brink. But not because the wayward spouse wills themselves to repent. Not because the abandoned spouse made the right arguments, spouted the right logic. Marriages have come back from the dead because of the ONLY one we can truly put our hopes in.
The Resurrected King. The defeater of death. The God of rebirth and life.
I'm trying to find my way back to hoping only in Him. The one who died for me and rose again. The one who laid down his life for me while I denied him, scourged him, mocked him, and rejected him. The one who loved me despite my sin, my darkness, my brokenness, my shame, and my shortcomings.
That Hope could breathe life back into my dying marriage. Absolutely. Just like He has done many times for others. He could work a miracle and breathe life into something that has ceased to live. I can't discount that possibility. I can't deny Him the space to move and work and have His way. He's a good God who loves marriage. Who heals families, and brings restoration. He can do anything. I absolutely can say that I still have hope. In the God who could do all of those things.
Even if He doesn't.
See, what I'm learning is that you can't put your hope in man, or chariots, or horses, or marriages, or anything else of this world. Minds are broken. Hearts are feeble. Men are weak and selfish. If you put your trust in those things, you are sure to be disappointed. Because even if God is calling and prompting, and leading someone towards something, they can still say "no" and turn the other way. They can walk away in disobedience and rebellion. They can choose sin.
But God. God never chooses sin. Never chooses selfishness. Never chooses bitterness. Never chooses unforgiveness. Never chooses spite. Never chooses death.
No matter what my husband chooses, or what your child chooses, or what your parent chooses, or your girlfriend chooses- there is hope. A hope that transcends all of this earthly suffering. Hear me here- I'm not saying that Hope means we won't suffer. I mean, Jesus promises us that we will suffer. I'm saying that there's a light at the end of even the darkest tunnels. Even if you're so in the thick of it that you just can't see anything but pitch black. Trust me. Trust HIM. There is light. There is hope. There is life.
I find that often times when I go through intense trials that my hope feels more real. In times when it feels like everything is falling apart and there is no logical reason to have hope- and I'm all about the logic of feelings and reasons and things- that hope swells up in me unfettered. That I'm expectant. I find myself waiting for the dawn because I know that after the fiercest storms come the most spectacular sunrises.
Beauty from ashes.
Hope from hopelessness.
This is the most battered I've ever been. This is the fiercest storm I've ever clung to life through. It's bleak, and black, and awful. The night is raging all around me and I can't see anything.
So I just know- deep in the core of my heart- that whatever the dawn brings is going to be breathtaking. Because that is this hope I have in my God. Because "Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; He is gracious, merciful, and righteous" (psalm 112:4)
So I'm trying to cling to hope in the Lord. Even if he doesn't restore what is broken and dying. Because He won't force anyone into anything. Even if He knows it would be better in the long run. And I'm trying not to put my hope in a man or a marriage, because it's brought nothing but heartbreak and intense pain. And even if my marriage truly dies, out of the ashes I know that God will fashion something stunning. Out of the darkness, the most beautiful morning will eventually dawn.
Hope is not lost.
Hope is never lost. He reigns eternal.