Hope That is Seen is Not Hope

Earlier this week, I read a blog on the singles’ website of a well-known ministry. The writer was a woman who wanted to encourage singles not to give up hope for marriage, no matter how old they were. She wrote that many of her single women friends were choosing not to hope because it caused too much disappointment. She viewed this as giving up on God-given desires in order to try to have more control over life.

I would like to offer a different perspective. I don’t know this woman or her friends that she writes about, but she may want to consider that they are making a good choice to live their lives without focusing on wanting to be married. Hope is something that we should have in abundance, but I don’t believe that we should waste our time focusing on our hopes for this earthly life. This is very personal to me because I greatly desire to marry and have children. But I have realized that I need to focus on living a life pleasing to God rather than focusing on getting married.

One night this week, I had a dream that I was in the hospital having a baby. I can still remember how it felt in the dream when they placed my newborn baby girl into my arms. It was as though my subconscious was torturing me over this desire of my heart. When I woke up in the morning, the dream was a fuzzy memory that I was able to push out of my mind. Then I encountered one of my pregnant co-workers when I was walking into work. It brought back my dream and how real it had felt. A sense of grief came over me that stayed with me through the day. I want to look at my life and have hope that my dream will come true, but that isn’t the hope that I should be nurturing in my heart.

I have an eternal hope.

I hope in my God who can make “all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) I have hope because God “has not destined [me] for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.” (1 Thes. 5:9-10) I have an eternal hope.

When I start feeding my hopes for earthly things, that is when I stop seeking God’s will for my life. I take my eyes off of Jesus and start looking at men (literally and figuratively!). I begin seeking for a man, instead of seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness. This engenders hopes that are specifically tied to an individual, and it isn’t long before all of my hopes are tied up in a single human being (because when I am seeking, I am sure to find someone to place my hopes in). My perspective becomes skewed and I have led myself far from God.

God can handle my tears and my questions, but He cannot abide my idols.

I would like to assert that “keeping hope alive” is about knowing the God we serve, “who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:5) I will choose to grieve my earthly pains with the knowledge of my eternal hope. God can handle my tears and my questions, but He cannot abide my idols. I am far to prone to idolize earthly hopes. If I am to keep my devotion undivided, I must hope only in Him. I have found more joy in seeking God over the last decade, than I ever found seeking marriage in the decade before that. I wrote this prayer a year ago and it is just as relevant today:

It is written, “No good thing [do You] withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Is it that the things I desire are not good, or is it that I do not walk uprightly before You, Lord? I have many good things that I feel certain I would trade for the desire of my heart to be met. Yet I know that You love me more than any earthy being could. I know that walking with You will bring me more joy than the family that I desire would bring to me. Oh Lord, if my desires are impure, please remove them. Help me to love and desire You more than anything else. Teach my heart to love You above all I could wish for. Teach me to forget any hopes beside the hope I have in You. When I am lonely, help me to see You there, Lord. When I am longing, make it only for You. When I am tempted to compare my life to others’, draw my eyes back to You alone. “Let It Be Jesus:” my focus, my hope, my following after, my love, my truth, and the desire of my heart.

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