There is a wise proverb that tells us ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.’ (Proverbs 13:12)
As I was thinking on this verse the other day, I was thinking about some situations that are happening in my life, and the lives of loved ones, that feel hopeless. I thought about how these situations were affecting me, both in my heart and in my mind.
I don’t know about you, but I am someone who personally struggles a lot with anxiety, and it can be a major issue in my life, especially when there feels to be something going on where I just can’t hold onto hope anymore.
I fully believe none of us are meant to be living with anxiety, panic attacks, or lost hope in any situation life throws our way. Now, although I believe this, I still find myself in the center of the storm that anxiety can often bring.
Anxiety is driven by fear- and fear is not of God.
“God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7)
We are given a sound mind by the creator of the universe- but why do I, and so many others I know, find ourselves battling thoughts, worries, and fears; so much that it seems to be crippling our daily lives?
As I thought about this, I went back to Proverbs 13:12 – Hope. I also thought about the words I keep hearing God speak to me about letting go and receiving (see last blog post- link at bottom of this page).
I thought about hopelessness, and letting go. They often feel like the same thing- like letting go of something can mean loosing hope in the situation. But I realized this wasn’t true at all.
Letting go and loosing hope are two totally different things.
When the Spirit calls us to let go of something, that means we are holding onto it, and most likely, trying to control the situation even without realizing it. Of course this comes from the best intentions for ourselves, and for others, but this control brings fear, and lacks true love. We can feel that it’s driven by love, but if the fruit is anxiety and panic, or lack of peace, we are actually being driven by fear- and this can bring us to a place of loosing hope all together.
But in letting go, we take the hope out of the situation, and put both the situation and our hope in God’s hands. For me, it helps to visualize God extending both hands- and in one hand I put my hope. In the other, I put whatever situation I feel the Spirit telling me to let go of. (I like to make sure I put them in separate hands because I want to fully recognize my hope not being in the situation anymore- but fully, and only in God. Then I can know the situation is also in His hands as well).
In this letting go, we also have to realize that the situation may go differently than we expect- and this is where fear and control can try to step back in, making us take back the thing we let go of in the first place. This is where, for me, letting go becomes a weekly, or sometimes daily practice.
This is my latest painting that has taken me a few weeks before I saw how it came together. The canvas started out horizontally with the crest of the wave. The wave represented something in life where I had told God that I felt like this wave was just too much for me to get through.
As I painted this, and the wave formed, I felt God tell me to then turn the painting vertically. As I did, I saw Christ in the center of it, and painted him as an outlined figure of white light. I continued to paint, and often returning to the painting to go over it.
That wave was my own hopelessness. I couldn’t get through it because my focus was on it, and my heart was becoming sick from the loss of hope. But then seeing Christ there in the middle of it all, showing me a different way- I realized all I had to do was keep my eyes on him as he led me.
This doesn’t mean the wave went away; but it means that my hope is restored, because it is no longer in the situation, but in the creator of the world.
This is letting go, walking by faith, and living from the tree of life- Christ.
So as I finish this blog, I just want to ask- what have you felt you lost hope in recently? Is it something, like me, that you also need to let go of- releasing control and giving this burden over to the one who controls the tides. He works all things out for our good- even in our own freewill, He weaves the story together to bring beauty from the ashes, and hope for the hopeless. Lock eyes with Him, and trust him through the process- and event through the pain it may bring, taking it day by day. Healing takes time, so if your heart has become a bit sick from loss of hope, be patient with both the circumstance, and most of all with yourself.