THE SOWING AND REAPING OF HOPE
Sometimes, all you don’t want to hear in time of crisis or tragedy or heartache is something positive. Am I the only one? Misery loves company sometimes, and that night, I was miserable and missing my husband and my kids. I had been in the hospital on bedrest with our third baby for 4 weeks, and the depravity of the situation often overtook me. I was lonely and I was terrified of the future, and all I wanted was to make this all go away.
I had been away from my comfort zone for several weeks, and I remember my dad walked in to my room unannounced in the middle of his work day. I will never forget it. I saw his face and I jumped out of the bed and wept on his chest. I was heartbroken. I was yearning for my kids and I couldn’t do anything about it. I remember how I stood there for a longer-than-normal hug and finally after I pulled myself together, he took my shoulders, looked at me and said, “It’s going to be okay.”
How could he know that? He couldn’t. And I remember in that moment feeling a little let down at his wisdom. Because if anyone knows my dad, he is basically the bee’s knees of good advice, but this time was an exception. Because, I wanted more. I wanted something to take the miserable feelings away from me. I wanted the longing and yearning in my heart that I had for my family to leave me, I wanted contentedness right then and there.
I think he sensed my subtle eye roll, unimpressed with the “it’s going to be okay” statement, and I slouched back onto my bed. I remember he said a lot of things, but honestly, I cannot remember anything hitting me like his usual comforting “dad words,” but what I do remember was this: “Your kids are watching you, they are seeing you fall at the feet of Jesus through this. They are learning how to be in times of struggle. It is hard now, but later they will draw from this and so will you.” He spoke other things as well, but this felt tangible to me. It was a practical application to so many scriptures I had read about hope of the future. It was a way to put a real-life response to the scriptures about pain now and joy in the morning, about reaping and sowing.
It hit me for only a moment, but passed on like the wind, because all I wanted was for this to be over and for me to be able to go home. That’s what I DO remember saying over and over that afternoon, “I just want to go home, dad, I just want to go home. I cannot do this anymore, I need my family. I need to hold my kids. I miss Steve. I just want to go home.” My dad spoke of the later, of the future, but all I wanted was the now. He spoke of the fruit that would come of this, of how there would be good that would come, that this wasn’t easy, but that it was for a reason. And although we can never know for sure what the purpose of pain and trial and tribulation are while here on earth, I do believe one thing is for sure: my dad was right. He didn’t fix my misery in that moment, he didn’t make everything better for me, but what he did do was speak a truth that caused me to shift in my response to the misery. It caused me to think about how I was facing the trial, who I was running to, how I was responding. It challenged me to think outside of myself, to see my kids and our family suffering in that time, and feel hope for the future.
I wanted the now to change. The suffering was overwhelming, the distance from my comfort zone was out of reach, and the hope I had was slipping. I didn’t have the words or the will to change anything, and as my dad spoke of the future, of being out of this season, the hope I longed for right then and there was given perseverance, it was given the patience to endure the unknown. The hope I always had prior to this moment was always rooted in the easily attainable, but as weakness overtook me, my hope clung to the unimaginable, the unseen. I could not see the future, the outcome or the result, but I fell in love with desperately clinging to the Heavenly Father and his purpose in it. I had to let the groanings of my heart be interpreted for me. I had to trust the Spirit of God to intercede for us, for me, when all I could do was stare in the face of now.
“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:25-28
Our kids did watch and they did see. They heard and they listened in. They had a tough time, and they saw me have a tough time. But they saw us cling to Jesus. They witnessed miracles and prayers answered and glory revealed before their eyes. They were only 2 and 4 years old, and although I had hoped they would have no memory of the struggle, only the result of our miracle baby being born, the reality is that they do remember. But they now draw from it on the daily.
They pray to the living God, speaking real requests, in real faith, and they speak with the authentic childlike yet wise-beyond-their-years faith that they got from the journey we have been on. They watched us cry out. They held our hands. They sang and worshipped and clung to hope alongside us. They watched us sing through tears. They asked questions about how God is good, about how why sad things happen. They listened and absorbed and were part of the shift that happened in our hearts toward the Father. It was a season of deep valleys, and at the time all I wanted was for it to go away, for it to be over, to go home.
But then. This. This fruit. This is the reaping of the sowing of hope. These kids know the King sits on the throne, and that He will never leave us. They know that God answers prayer and comforts the crying mommies and daddies. They have witnessed miracles and endured valleys of despair.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19
Are you in the valley? And I don’t necessarily mean something earth-shattering. A valley doesn’t have to be a life-altering diagnosis or a death; it can be the overdraft fee you just received in the mail for the fifth month in a row, it could be your child’s fever or your migraine. It could be cancer or miscarriage or a failing math grade. It could be your marriage, your divorce, your anxiety or fear of the future. These are the things that we cling to the Father for. These are the valleys that we can keep pushing forward and out of. These are where we are met, where the wastelands get watered and the mountains get climbed. We are not forgotten, we are not forsaken, we are not alone. The now is not forever and the hope we have is for the future, for the unseen and the future mountaintops we will stand tall upon. The valleys are where our groanings are often too deep for words and where we are cared for and sustained. Lean in. Lean far in to the hope, because indeed He is doing a new thing!