Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5
This week marks our 7th month DTE anniversary. This simply means 7 months ago our dossier was submitted to Ethiopia and our names were officially inscribed on the waiting list. It means that we are officially ready to have our names un-inscribed and kindly offer up our spot to the next family in line. It means that we are one month past the original estimated wait time, yet still many months shy of the recently lengthened estimated time.
7 months (or six months really) marks a season of budding hope. After months of dampened spirits and darkening doubts, we have found the Lover of our Souls whispering sweet peace and hope into our hearts, and our enthusiasm has been restored. For this heart, hoping in something I have not seen (which is always the case with hope, is it not?) is especially difficult. For one who has an ugly affection with the pride-child named Control, and who often reacts to separation from control with fits of whining, panic, immobility, amnesia, or acid reflux, placing hope in something that is invisible and intangible is impossible. Without a helping hand from the Hope-Giver. While the control freak girl works feverishly to set up protective barriers around the heart, ensuring that no one or nothing can crash the dreams safely hidden inside, the dreams actually begin to die from suffocation. So barricaded are they from any potential vulnerability, never celebrated, rarely spoken of, they begin to decay. But the Hope-Giver whispers of His faithfulness to keep His promises, of joy unspeakable, of endurance, of hope that does not put to shame, of eager expectations, of perfect love casting out fear, and the control freak shuffles back to her grave, her death sentenced already pronounced (2 Cor. 5:17). Her persistence in faking a resurrection is of most irritation and detriment to me.
So, ever so tentatively, I have allowed my hopes to unfurl again. This might really happen! In fact, with certainty it will happen, when and only when, the Author of this hope sees fit. I allow my mind to wander again. What color will the African sky be? What friends will we make, hearts knit together though lives separated by miles and words separated by languages? What will the little face or faces look like the first moment they lay eyes on us? What if the call comes this week?! Will I laugh? Cry? Will that be the moment when my heart finally accepts this concept as a reality and not just a far-fetched dream?
But the hope-thief starts upping the frequency of his uninvited visits. He fills the space with sneers of “The higher your anticipation, the father the fall if this thing crashes and burns!” “If you knew how hard it’s going to be to raise a once- orphaned child, you would be wishing for a longer wait.” And then yesterday his arrival shortly after an email arrival bearing the news of yet another lengthening of the expected wait times was accompanied by taunts: “How funny, weren’t you just saying something about restored hope and having sweet peace in the waiting? You even thought you could receive a referral soon? Your wait is probably just getting started! You might have had joy for a few weeks, but just wait, the despair will be returning any day now.” He steals. He kills. He destroys hope.
Ah but not for long! I know the antidote for his poison. (though too many times control freak girl comes up with ridiculous remedies to try first. They always fail.) I pull out the weapons of the Hope-Giver. Beautiful weapons of promise. (Sound like an oxymoron? His is an upside-down kingdom. 2 Cor. 10:3-6, Mat. 20:16, Mat. 5:44) His promises remind me that the battle is already one. That His faithfulness to me is great, His steadfast love for me endures forever. And I unclench my fist yet again to take hold of the hope He offers. My heart needs continual reminders that trials, suffering, heartaches, are the soil that produces faith and character growth. I call to mind the lessons I have learned about being intentional. (What’s up with this continual learn…forget, learn…forget cycle? Maybe something to do with control freak girl??) Choosing to believe rather than waiting to feel.
“While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things, because He knows that the feeling of joy begins in the action of thanksgiving. True saints know that the place where all the joy comes from is far deeper than that of feelings; joy comes from the place of the very presence of God. Joy is God and God is joy and joy doesn’t negate all other emotions-joy transcends all other emotions.” (Ann Voskamp in “One Thousand Gifts”, a book that the Hope-Giver has greatly used in restoring my pursuit of contentment.)
I purpose yet again to look for the gifts, the blessings, the graces of this season, this moment. I am learning slowly, tentatively, to allow my heart to embrace the truth that my head has long known but my heart has often doubted. To let this reality soak down into my soul, that God is good. He is GOOD. His goodness is constant, regardless of human circumstance. He is the giver of everything good and those who seek Him will lack no good thing. He does not give sparingly, or according to merit, but rather gives goodness in abundance, without holding back, bestowing favor and honor and guidance and steadfast love from a cup of blessing that is full and overflowing, splashing down into a dry, thirsty soul, saturating the dessert and satisfying the drought. James 1:17, Ps. 34:10, Ps. 84:11, Ps. 33:22, Ps. 63:1-3, Is. 58:11
My friends, thank you for journeying thus far with me, for looking over the barriers, into the dry, sometimes dirty soul of mine, and still loving me. I have just one request. Will you continue to pray with us? I know it has been longer than you (or we) expected, and perhaps there are much harder days yet ahead. I simply ask that you pray for our hearts to be at peace, trusting in the faithfulness of our Father. While we wish that this season of waiting would soon pass, we desire much more that we would be students to whatever lessons He has for us. If it takes many months for us to learn, we want to accept it with thanksgiving, knowing He gives nothing but good! And if one day you are talking to me, and you catch a glimpse of an unsightly barrier around my heart, remind me that hope does not put to shame!