Crunch. Immediate tears. No coherent thoughts… just sobs of overwhelming emotion as the stress, fear, grief, and even hope, collided with exhaustion. And the realization that I was not at my best by any stretch of my imagination. I had backed into another vehicle in the parking lot after a long, frightening, difficult 24 hours. I felt the wash of shame and inadequacy. And, of course, I hit an expensive car.
The song playing on the radio as I sobbed was new to me, Into the Sea, by Tasha Layton.
“My heart is breaking in a way I never thought it could My mind is racing with the question, "Are you still good?"
Can you make something from the wreckage? Would you take this heart and make it whole again?
Though the mountains may be moved into the sea Though the ground beneath might crumble and give way I can hear my Father singing over me "It's gonna be okay, it's gonna be okay"
That day was a while ago, and if I told you my life’s story I could name a few more days like that when the chaos, darkness, suffering, and exhaustion of a season collided in a moment. I expect you could too. Life is hard - hope is needed.
Has there been a “collision kind of day” for you? That day a fender bender moment surfaced a boatload of emotion regarding many hard things for me. These days there are many overlapping hardships: financial stress, anxiety surrounding the political shifts in the world, concern regarding health and loved ones during a pandemic, illness and loss, conflict, isolation and depression, uncertainty on many levels. What about you?
I wrote about holding onto hope in my last reflection. A phrase has emerged in my prayer in the last couple of days—tenacious hope—perhaps it is God's invitation to me, and maybe you.
Tenacity. There is something gritty, enduring, persevering, and determined in the word. I envision one who is stumbling and discouraged, maybe even assaulted by hardship, but willing to get up again and take the next step because their attention is fixed on God. We have a need of tenacious hope.
Hope is not a frivolous feeling that denies reality. It is more than a longing for happiness or relief. It is not mindless, foolish bravado or a “pull yourself up by your boot straps” self-sufficiency, but a tenacious confidence in God himself. Tenacious hope is willing to wait on God and fixes attention on the Almighty...not on the circumstances, not the opposition, not the pain, not the enemy. Hope is confident that God is active and working for the good of his people. Hope nourishes courage when circumstances are difficult, oppressive, or brutal. Hope shimmers in the darkness. Advent is about hope—confident watching and waiting for God to break through our darkness.
Our hope is rooted in the Triune God. It is rooted in God sending his Son to enter our fear, darkness, chaos, suffering, and exhaustion. God came down to Bethlehem as a baby so long ago… and God comes today.
We must encourage one another in hope. That day in the parking lot my husband saw the accident. He was by my side in moments reminding me that it would be "okay." How can we come alongside one another in these difficult days and encourage hope? How can we offer kindness rather than judgment? How is God coming to you and me today? Remember God is working good for those who wait for him.
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who works for those who wait for him.