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“I cry out in the night before thee. Let my prayer come before thee; include thy ear to my ear. . . I’m standing my ground, God, shouting for help, at my prayers every morning, on my knees each daybreak. For as long as I remember I’ve been hurting, I’ve taken the worst you can hand out and I’ve had it. . . I’m bleeding, black and blue. ”
—Psalm 88 (New Oxford Bible and The Message)
In those frantic days between good health and the rapid advance of a brain tumor that took the life of my husband, I found the inner strength I needed to deal with our crisis within the book of Psalms. The psalmist spoke the words my heart was experiencing. He articulated my pain, tears, and cries for help, both before death and later, as I grieved my loss.
In my book, A Love So Great, A Grief So Deep, I shared my story and described hope as a “double-edged sword.” Others shared stories of loved ones who survived, and I was stirred to believe my prayers, too, would be answered and my husband would survive, even though deep down, I could not ignore the symptoms before me.
I went on to say:
“Hope is the effort to fly with wings not yet grown. If I don’t hope – don’t try – don’t struggle, there will never be the possibility of flying.”
In order to fly, you have to exercise your wings.
In order to fly, you have to be willing to let go of your fear of heights, and free fall, spreading your arms to catch the updrafts and float.
In order to fly, you must believe and have hope that you can. Hope was a gift God gave me. Whether my husband lived or not, I knew that God was there with us and would hang on to me when his life was gone.
In Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman wrote:
“Optimism and hope cause better resistance to depression when bad events strike, better performance at work, particularly in challenging jobs, and better physical health.”
Optimism doesn’t just happen – it is learned.
We cannot live without hope. We might get bruised and bloodied in the process, but to live without hope is worse than struggling – it is flapping our wings and going nowhere.
And yet, flapping our wings can help make them stronger.
I want to soar like the eagles. I always have. I just never knew it required such a workout to get started.
Hope is an expectation – a wish that something good can happen – will happen. It allows us to keep going. It motivates us to keep believing that there is the promise of a better tomorrow.
Even when our prayers are not answered in the way we want, God gives us hope for another day – another possibility. He gives us strength to endure. He gives us peace in the midst of sorrow.
“… but they who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
We want to live happy and fulfilled lives. We want to believe there is predictability, an end to sorrow, and the possibility of a new tomorrow.
Even in death, we want to know we can let go of our loved ones and believe we will not only survive, but will be able to create a new life. We want to believe we will see them again.
In today’s world, change is happening so quickly that it is difficult to keep up. We plan, but then tragedy strikes and changes our life forever.
At such times, as it was when my husband so unexpectedly got sick, we are left with uncertainty and wondering, “Now what do I do?”
You not only have to grieve your loss but create a new beginning. In order to do that, you need to believe you can. You need to believe that God will give you what is needed. Because hope is the expectation that it will happen. “I will make it through this. I can do this.”
Wikipedia defines hope as an “optimistic state of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes…”
In the Bible, hope is not just a wish but “the confident expectation” of what God promises us.
We hang on to that hope because we know He is faithful. And we know that with that hope, we can develop both resilience and confidence.