Hope Renewed

Those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31).

“Your pace will change from a sprint to a marathon,” she counseled. These words brought immense hope to my soul on the heels of a few exhausting years that did indeed feel like the 50-yard dash on replay every hour of my day.

The thought of a marathon panics some, but its pace is slower, steadier than the sprint, and yes, we still have a race to run, but perhaps it didn’t have to kill me?

I had been waiting for this comfort, and many translations in fact interpret the words “hope in the Lord” as “wait on the Lord.”

Following a difficult circumstance that involved condemnation, emotional pain, all my own irresponsible and naive decisions, and despair of such magnitude I thought I might die of it, I discovered the truth that those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

This renewal of strength is conditional of course, as all of God’s promises are, on a decision I had to make: would I hope in the Lord? If so, then I could soar with the wings of an eagle! I could run and not grow weary! I could walk and not be faint! These are miracles, all humanly impossible, for who among us can sprout wings or never tire or feel faint after endless movement?

I remember praying to God to make me invisible. For the first two weeks after this situation erupted, I couldn’t leave my house (except for the picking up of the raw fragments of it all), held there by my own almost manic despair.

My husband did the shopping, errands, and all necessary functions of life as I half-lived, my movements like a lizard’s tail that moves after it’s been dropped from the body. When finally I did have the strength to make one small trip to the store, I got through it by praying, “Lord, please let people miraculously look right through me. Make me invisible. I can’t handle the bitter words.” I yet had no hope and felt no grace.

I lived for a long time in fear and mistrust, which may be the antithesis of hope. Fear of never recovering, mistrust of the intentions of everyone, afraid of sleeping, for then the shadow of death settled in. And then came the period of the sprinting, sometimes running hard to prove I was something, sometimes running hard just to get away. I was wounded too much to hope, I thought. I couldn’t speak and I was mute and knew no one and no one knew me.

I lived in the Psalms during the dark days as in no other season of my life. In fact, I believe I never before even remotely had an emotional connection with the Psalms, with the pursuit of enemies, the sheer agony of despair that David cries out about. I never before needed Hope like I needed it during those years. I cried out to the Lord out of the brokenness of my spirit as I had never before cried. I could almost physically feel my mind splintering.

And behold, this hell is the very best opportunity to experience Hope, though who would want to live in these dark David-like caves? But who was called a man after God’s own heart?

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall.” These words precede the promise in Isaiah 40:31. In my own strength and youth (immaturity), I was weary and had utterly fallen. I needed Hope.

It took time, but gradually I re-entered normalcy as best I could, and bit by bit He renewed my strength. I would still be in that cave were it not for this promise of God: Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. God-sent friends thoroughly loved me through these months and years, believed in me, lifted me up, and indeed still lift me up, like the wise woman who shared the gift about the marathon. I clung to His Word. I was as the deer who panted for water.

Biblical hope is powerful and mighty to save. This hope is an expectation that positively, absolutely the thing will come to pass. The hope we’re waiting for is always God’s salvation, both His eternal salvation and the salvation we need in the daily moments of life. It’s beyond me, yet I must actively participate.

I found that Hope required me to move. I wanted to lie in bed in my despair but it was in the rising up, pursuing Him through prayer, worship, and meditation upon the Word, that Hope changed me.

Hope renews, and I’m also learning that it’s a daily renewal. Hope yesterday was for that day. Today? I need it fresh. Because sometimes, I still hear a graceless word and want to crawl in a cave and am overcome by fear and mistrust.

As Vincent McNabb, Irish scholar and priest, once said, “Hope is some extraordinary spiritual grace that God gives us to control our fears, not to oust them.” I pray daily for that special grace to have Hope for the day, for new wings and fresh feet.

{A very special thanks to Anita at Dreaming Beneath the Spires who first invited me to write on this topic.}

And sharing today with Ann at A Holy Experience, as she also explores Hope.

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6 Responses to Hope Renewed

  1. Reagan says:

    Oh, how I know those prayers to be invisable! We lost our ministry. Publicly, painfully, unjustly. We were newbies, fresh out of seminary (a journey of five long years). “Your pace will change from a sprint to a marathon.” We ran hard…attempting to change the old guard, only to have the old guard change us. We escaped with only our family intact… Two years since, and just now the scars have turned into smooth places. God is good!

  2. Jen says:

    Reagan, I’m so sorry for your pain, and I can thoroughly weep with you having been through such a public humiliation. Just this past weekend, as the Lord continued His restoration process, He gave me this incredible promise from Joel that I would love to share with you!

    I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten… (Joel 2:25)

    AND

    …never again will my people be shamed. (Joel 2:27)

    There is so much more in Joel chapter 2 that I know you’re probably intimately familiar with, but those particular words were a balm.

    Blessings, and praising God for deliverance, Jen

  3. This was awesome! Thank you for sharing. Your words are a true gift in my life. So glad you are in it. Even if it’s a cyber-friendship.

  4. Jen says:

    Debi–I’m so grateful, too, for you, but I have to tell you that since I’ve actually met you face to face, you’ve moved out of my “cyber-friendship” category into the IRL category. ;-)

  5. Heidi says:

    Oh, my beautiful friend… I know and I know and I know. Thank you for this I know how hard it must have been to write.

  6. Jen says:

    Heidi, someone just knowing is so very precious. That is a very hard-earned knowing you have. Thank you. {That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!}

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