The Upside-Down Reality of Hope When All Hope is Gone
ONE night in thousands alive, one experience of being resurrected, one delivery from torment into tranquillity; one that started it all. One special night.
Eight months previously, over a 24-hour period, I’d lost my wife, free access to my children, my family home, and ultimately my job, as I couldn’t bear to be travelling far and wide, apart from my three daughters for lengths of time. Eight months later, and there was still this grief that lingered and lurked, not every day, but still it threatened sporadically to assail me.
It never felt like a special night to begin with. I felt like life was ending. Of the months of same such nights in that period of my life, I again plied my faith, praying fervently before God. He was all I had at that time, and nearly all the time. Even as I felt His comfort and empathy, there was so much pain. It was a night I simultaneously experienced the sheer temerity of hell on earth and the absolute comfort of God in heaven, as if both intersected my being at precisely the same time. Only as I looked back was this night the most special of my life to date.
Going upstairs in the townhouse I was renting, I decided to take a bath, to submerge myself. To escape this living hell. Dripping wet I walked across the hall and flopped onto the bed and drew the covers over me. Shivering emotionally, I continued to bellow my heart out to God. I continued weeping. Until my spirit gave itself up to sleep.
The next morning, I woke up in the downstairs bedroom. I have no recollection of moving downstairs, but I must have done so during the early hours of the morning.
I’d fallen asleep upstairs in utter lament. Something miraculous had happened. I woke up downstairs refreshed in God’s joy. This was the first time I’d experienced the truth embedded in Psalm 30:5b — “though tears linger in the evening, but joy comes with the morning.” Not only was there a joy in me that transcended my circumstances, there was a peace and a confidence that had been gifted to me wrapped in God’s grace.
That night, that first night, I learned this truth: the power of hope is never more potent than when all hope is gone.
When all we can do is hope, we hope, for there’s purpose in having no other option.
Over the years since this foundational night-and-morning experience I’ve had numerous similar experiences of lament-in-prayer-as-preparation-for-the-heart as an antecedent to God’s overnight healing.
I’ve learned that God loves nothing more than a broken and contrite heart at prayer. A heart surrendered, for it has no other hope to rely upon than the only hope we ever have: God, Himself.
I have also learned to check my heart for resistance when I haven’t received healing from God. Whenever I’ve been resistant to His work in me, in having failed to surrender, I’ve also failed to receive the comfort only He can give.
God will always help, giving the comfort only He can give, and restoring us as only He can, but we must surrender.