Hope hurts

I feel so dumb sometimes. I never stop hoping. We’ve been through a season of closed door after closed door after closed door, and losing Sam was the ultimate loss among all of those losses. I have never been so spiritually and emotionally exhausted. Yet still, I hope. I hope that finally a door will open somewhere toward something good. You think I’d learn. Stop hoping that something good will happen. Hope is like my heartbeat, as it will not stop coming until I die. Its cessation will cause my death. Its cessation will signal my death. As long as I am alive, I will hope. God, it hurts. Answer my hope.

I fight that temptation to regret hoping for Sam. It was the greatest gift I could have bestowed upon my son. Love hopes. Boy, did we hope. Boy, did we love. Because we hoped, we helped him leave a legacy. Still I hear from people, Sam inspired me to have faith when I pray. Sam renewed my passion for life. Sam makes me grateful. Sam makes me hope for heaven. Would he have had an opportunity to live so potently had we not hoped? Hope was a good thing. Ow, but hope hurts.

I read the story of the Shunammite woman this morning, who was faced with the possibility of blessing (v. 15), and answered, in essence, “Don’t yank my chain!” I’m right there with her, God. Don’t yank my chain.

There’s something in her demeanor that I recognize. She hasn’t completely lost hope. She’s still alive. Not just alive, but maybe even thriving. She’s keeping her home, blessing travelers. When Elisha asks what can be done to reward her kindness, she answers, “I have a home and friends.” It’s enough, she says. I’m fine. Fine. Fine. Fine. I have a roof over my head, food, a loving husband, friends. I’m fine.

The mention of the birth of a baby son provokes her. “No, my lord,” she objected. “Don’t mislead your servant, O man of God!” Don’t. Yank. My. Chain. I just got this hope under control… to where it only hurts me sometimes… and now you’ve opened it up again… this mess… it will take days to get stuffed back into its place… don’t do this… don’t do this…

But He did. The next year, a son was born to her. I wonder what transpired in her heart while her son was growing up. I wonder what growth took place. I wonder if she still kept her hope safe, or if she learned to hope freely. I wonder if she slid back to that scary place where hope hurts when her son fell suddenly ill and died in her arms. I wonder if she regretted letting her hope take flight. I wonder if her heart had grown to accommodate the flight of her hope.

I think it did.

After her son passed, she took his body to the place of her waiting, where the Man of God would stay when he visited. She laid him upon Elisha’s bed. Having lost a son, I understand what she was doing in a way I never understood before… oh my heart hurts as I remember wrapping Sam in his blanket like a little burrito and giving the nurse strict instructions about how his body was to be kept, to whom it was to be delivered, how he was to be dressed… The woman was putting her son in the safest place she could find, outside of her arms. It was the place where God would come to her during the time that, maybe, it hurt to come to Him.

She left her son there, and she packed up and said to her servant, “Drive that way and do it fast.” (v. 24) Her husband asks her why she’s going to the Man of God, and she answers, “It will be well.” It’s all going to be fine. It’s going to be good again. Did she know for certain? No. But she hoped. And so she went as fast as she could to God, hoping He would make it well.

When she meets Elisha’s servant at the gate, he asks her how she and her family are, and the woman answers, “We’re fine.” It is not until she comes as close to God as she can get that she spills her heart, “I didn’t ask you for a son! I didn’t ask you to get my hopes up! I asked you not to yank my chain!” (v.28)

I don’t know what the revival of my hope will look like. I don’t know if I will be disappointed again. I wish I was confident enough to hope readily in every moment, but I just don’t. I’m tired of being disappointed. I’m tired of feeling forgotten. I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine, God. Don’t yank my chain. My hope sits in a corner of my heart, and I am afraid to yield it to You. I am afraid to tell you what I hope for because I don’t want to be disappointed again, so I tell You I’m fine.

I’m grateful that He knows what hope resides in my heart. I’m grateful He keeps it alive because if it were up to me, I would neglect it till it died.

In the end, the boy is revived. It’s gradual–not a sudden opening of the eyes and bolting upright in bed, but a gradual warming and waiting. God, I ache to see my son alive. I ache to see him made whole. I ache to be made whole myself. But God, while I lay my baby boy in the safest place I know, in this place of waiting, please remember me and answer the hope I had. I yield it only to You. My hope is so fragile, I can’t even relay it to Your servants. I have to relay it directly to you. Answer me, Lord. I’ve made ready a place in my heart for You to stay when You visit me, and now I am running to Your feet, hoping You’ll answer me and take care of my hope.

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One thought on “Hope hurts

  1. I too cannot help but hope that one day things will be better & my grief won’t be so all consuming…as awful & exhausting as it can be life would be so much worse without hope. It is what I cling to these days!

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