Read His Words Before Ours!
Uncomfortable truth alert: I didn’t fully grasp what hope was before I lost my daughter.
Is that shocking to hear? Maybe.
Is it something I don’t love to admit? Absolutely.
But is it truth? A hundred times, yes.
I’ll never forget the day hope caught fire for me. It was a cold Sunday, a few months after our daughter, Cadence Hope, had died. I had returned to serving on the worship team at our church, and while continuing to lead worship while working through the grieving process was the hardest thing I had ever done, it was also proving to be incredibly transformative.
That morning, as I exited the platform and made my way toward the lobby, I saw my dad walking toward me. As we paused to say hello, something in his face made me lean in to listen. His eyes glinted with tears, but his face was full of unmistakable joy.
“Merry, while you were leading today…I couldn’t shake this vision.” His voice cracked. “That while you were leading others and worshiping Him here today, Cadence was worshiping Him there, at the same time.”
I don’t think I reacted much in that moment as I processed what he said, but as his words took root and my heart took hold of the truth wrapped within, my breath caught in my throat.
He had pictured the two of us. A mother and daughter, separated by physical death, yet each worshiping the only One worthy of worship.
From opposite sides of eternity, each one wholly focused on Jesus.
That morning, it felt like something split open inside of me, forever changing my perspective. It had absolutely nothing to do with my grief, or the fact that my dad had pictured my daughter, but everything to do with my Jesus. In that instant, some things became suddenly clear to me.
First, that loss and grief are a part of life, but that because of Jesus,
we do not grieve as those who have no hope.
This was a truth in Scripture I had known for most of my life,
but to know something and to know something are two very different realities.
We do not grieve as those who have no hope, because we have Jesus!
The hope Paul referenced isn’t about who we will or won’t see again in Heaven – it is solely and wholly about who HE is.
Eternity will not be spent finding our long lost loved ones (although what rejoicing there will be on that blessed day), it will be spent worshiping HIM!
Spending time in His Presence!
Ascribing to Him all the glory He commands and is due!
Second, my hope does not lie in the fact that one day I’ll see my daughter again (although that is wonderful), nor because I know where she is now, but because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my life is not about me. It is only about HIM. Regardless of my situation, circumstance, or feelings, my life will always ever point to Him.
If you had asked me prior to that Sunday morning, I probably would have told you I had hope. I would have told you that I understood what it meant and why it was important. That Jesus was my Savior, and that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt where I would spend eternity after I breathed my last. That my hope was in Jesus and the knowledge that by faith through grace, I was adopted into God’s family.
And I would not have been lying to you.
But compared with the hope that took hold of my heart that morning,
the hope I used to carry was a small, someday sort of hope.
And a small, someday sort of hope doesn’t hold a candle to the
big, all-consuming fire kind of hope John the Baptist shared when he told about the Lamb of God:
John the Baptist believed God’s Word and obeyed, telling all who would listen of a Savior he had never seen. The hope John carried was the big, all-consuming fire kind of hope. The kind of hope that caused him to declare that Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah! The kind of hope that made him call out that Jesus was the Lamb of God, twice!
And we have access to that same kind of hope, Sister!
Do you know how freeing it is, to know that absolutely nothing in this life compares to Jesus?
That no illness, no challenge, no difficulty, no heartbreak, no grief, no loss, nothing can touch the hope that fills your heart because the God you worship is the same yesterday, today and forever?!
And that the investment you put into relationship with Him daily, through studying His Word and spending time in prayer and worship, is an investment into your forever future with Him?
It’s difficult to contain that kind of hope, once it catches hold in you. It would be like trying to restrain the ocean. Even if you were to try to hold it in, the waves would splash up and over your edges again and again… changing you and the atmosphere around you…and how you respond to situations and experiences in your life.
That’s the kind of hope that fuels courage in the face of fear. The kind of hope that helps us lay aside our earthly belongings, our status, our treasure and our talent, and stay eternity-minded in the middle of our mess.
The kind of hope that lays us bare and vulnerable so our story, however painful, however vulnerable, can be used to ignite the fire of hope in others.
I sometimes get caught up in the worry that when others read things I’ve written which reference the loss of our daughter, they might think that I share things I shouldn’t, or that the topic is too weighty.
Too personal. Too vulnerable. Too real.
Every time I seek His heart about it, He reminds me that my story is only ever His story, and His story always pulses with a rhythm of hope.
So which is it for you, Sister?
Maybe you relate to the small, someday sort of hope I had. You believe, but there just doesn’t seem to be much fire in you. You want to share with others, but you don’t feel much urgency.
Maybe you relate to the big, all-consuming fire kind of hope. Maybe it spills up and over so quickly you miss it, sometimes.
Maybe you feel somewhere in the middle.
No matter where you are, know this, dear one: HE is your hope. Regardless of your current situation or feelings, HE IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE. There is nothing you can do or say to change it, but you CAN lean into Him and ask Him to fill you with all the hope of Heaven – and He will do it!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!