choosing hopeLosing hope… not a very uplifting or encouraging topic, but it happens to all of us…and I think losing hope is one of the worst things ever!

Recently I wrote about being sick again, and this morning I woke up with the rumblings of another chest cold.  Blurry eyed form a rough night with little sleep, I wandered downstairs for coffee, the nectar of life on mornings like this!

John was snuggled on the sofa with our sweet puppy Bella; I laid down next to him, put my head on his shoulder and with tears said, “I think I’m getting sick… again.” Hopeless words, thoughts and feelings.

Everyone hates being sick – Life interrupted and feeling lousy. Getting sick for me, usually means a month of battle. My body seems to be germ magnet and they all take up residence in my lungs, wreaking havoc, making it difficult to breathe, talk, walk up the stairs.  Invariably this means a course of  very strong antibiotics and steroids which yield insomnia and insanity.  Hope not just deferred but crushed.

I have been wrestling with chronic illness for over 10 years.  My hopes, dreams, lifestyle, plans cut short, put on hold, aborted – a strong word, yes, but sickness threatened to kill my dreams.

For a while, I gave up. I went from being an active wife, mom, counselor to a couch potato, with barely enough strength or breath to walk up the stairs.

Chronic illness creeps into life and strangles any hope of normalcy.  Overtime, I stopped making plans, pulled out of all my commitments, and stopped engaging with people.  Canceling plans, being unreliable, letting people down became unbearable, so I withdrew.

Over the past 5 years my health has slowly improved.  A few years back, I thought I was “all better.”  Filled with hope, I dove back into life, 110%, only to have a relapse.

Hope crushed.  Shame ran rampant!  Shame for thinking I was done with chronic illness, I played whack-a-mole for not being more moderated in my re-entry. The chaos in my head was scary:  Why didn’t I know better, how could I be so foolish and not pace myself, would I be sick forever, and please God take all my dreams away since it hurts to have them and not see them come to pass.

God seemed silent.

I continued to battle, a bit less often with longer stretches of health between month long relapses.

Over time, I began to hope again…I am the girl who is sure “There is a pony in here somewhere!” and if we get to the end of the pile of poop, and the pony isn’t there… I am sure he just left!”

Hope? Optimism? Insanity?  Or a bit of all three!

My reentry into life was a bit more cautious that time.  Wisdom, maybe… I’d like to think so, and also fear… I had been here multiple times, and what made this time any different.

So at some level, my heart is afraid to hope, anticipating the inevitable crash. The onslaught of germs, the cancelled plans, weeks of rest, insomnia and depression.

After battling 8 weeks of illness in December & January, I had begun to hope again, so feeling sick this morning brought an onslaught of doubt, anger, fear and frustration.

Hope is a tricky thing.  Necessary, vital to life, like oxygen for our souls.  But fragile and uncertain as well.

Hope and I have a mixed martial arts kind of relationship.

Lamentations 3:40-41 says, “let us lift up our hearts -weary, hopeless, skeptical, uncertain, angry, disappointed and fearful hearts to God.

Part of me says, seriously…!!??! What good does that do? God let me be sick! God doesn’t feel like my help.  Right now, I feel like God is my “just wait, continue to hope, cling to me,” wilderness guide.

And I am angry… frustrated and sad.

I feel silly for being hopeful…for making plans and allowing my dreams to reawaken. And yet, I know that doing so is the only way to really live.  So, today trying to hope, believe, trust and not think too much.  This is the only way I know to move forward.

Honest, raw, fearful, yet hopeful.

Hope is an outgrowth of faith. It looks to God and says, “You are God and I am not, so I surrender and will choose to hope – not in what I see, know or can do – but in Who You are God, and what You say and can do.”

Lamentations 3:40-41 says, “let us lift up our hearts -weary, hopeless, skeptical, uncertain, angry, disappointed and fearful hearts to God.

Hope lifts our hearts to God. no matter how we feel or what condition our hearts are in. Hope believes, trusts and in utter weariness leans into the goodness and grace of God.  Hope doesn’t make sense. Hope is an act of faith.

Hope does the next thing, takes the next step, tries again.

Choosing hope is one of the bravest things we can do.

What is your hope story? Are you battling to keep hope alive? Can you lift your weary heart to God and ask for help in choosing hope? Share your thoughts below in the comments and let’s chat.

She Reads Truth Day 21

6 Responses to “What happens when we lose hope?”

  1. Jen

    I keep hoping I am going to find my purpose. I keep saying “this can’t be it, this can’t be all” and yet I keep hoping for that sign… that inspiration of what I am supposed to be doing. I feel fortunate this week I have felt inspired and am working on a new direction and hoping it works out. I know the slope is slippery and I am easily swayed so one step at a time, small successes will see me through. I hope this is it… But I trust that if its not I can retreat in my brokenness to my maker and again look for hope that something will come out of each struggle along the way.

    • Susie Miller

      Jen, Kudos to you for stepping out! Sometimes that is the most important and hardest part! And once we are in motion, being able to shift, pivot, redirect is easier! I tell myself often to just do the next thing, and trust God will direct my paths and give course corrections. Sometimes it is more bumps and setbacks than leaps forward, but at least we are in the game- right!!
      I just read a great book by Jeff Goins called the Art of Work about finding your purpose/calling. He is giving it away free (you pay S & H it is excellent and relevant to your journey! (I get nothing from recommending it 🙂

  2. Linda

    Sometimes it just seems as though nothing is going to work out as we want. Sometimes it seems that God has either turned his head or making a joke at our expense. All the things we want, the relationships, the achievements, the accomplishments, the stuff which occupies our thoughts and become what we ‘treasure’ are wrenched from us. They are beyond our reach. We no longer expect them, but is that the same as no longer having hope?
    We hold ourselves to such high standards of responsibility, have such dreams and aspirations, that obstacles to reaching those levels and not beating ourselves up for ‘failing’ make it is easy to drown in self doubt or self recriminations. We expect to reach our goals. We expect to achieve, to be productive, to be industrious. When we can’t, for whatever reason, we sink into darkness. But, is that losing hope? Or is that expectations not met?
    Is it rebellion or willfulness when we can’t do or have what we want and we take ‘later’ as ‘never’? What if later doesn’t come? What if we never grab that gold ring? Maybe the real achievement was in reaching for it.
    What if the answer is ‘no’ to our yearnings?

    • Susie Miller

      oh Linda, your words resonate with me. I have been told no or wait for my yearning and what I am convinced are God given dreams. and at some level am still waiting. I think of Hannah who waited and begged and prayed and hoped…and I long for her faith and perseverance. I ponder Sarah who got tired of waiting and hoping and looked at the reality of things – and doubting God’s ability and goodness took action foolishly… I have done that too!
      I think you are right, the stepping out in faith doing what we know we are called to do: pray, wait, act – even when it seems pointless is the way we demonstrate our faith and keep hope alive. For me, sometimes hope is an active of will and other times a thread I cling to. Sinking into darkness for me can lead to losing hope. I begin to see things through my eyes and abilities alone. Struggling seems different than sinking, at least for me and my inner battles. Don’t know if that answers your questions or helps, so feel free to reply.

      • Linda

        Yesterday I spent the morning with a dear 92 year old friend and the afternoon at the bedside of a relative whose time was nearer than anyone could know (he passed this morning at about 2:00 AM). When I dropped my friend at home after lunch I was compelled to go to the hospital. At that time my understanding was that Luc had about 6 months, so there was time to visit with him and his family. It wasn’t to be and I came into his presence in full understanding that his time was very near.
        This morning I read again my comments and your reply and the angst about the ‘nos’ or ‘not nows’ in our lives and I am lead to the following thoughts.
        First, we take ourselves entirely too seriously. (And perhaps, as a conseqeuence, the promptings of the Holy Spirit too lightly.)
        Secondly, we must hold onto humor and laughter. As we sat around Luc’s bed–his children, siblings, grandchildren–I urged them to talk to Luc of the fun things–the jokes he liked to tell and retell, the funny family events. Replace, momentarily, the tears of grief for the tears of laughter.
        Luc wasn’t, in the eyes of society, a particularly successful man. However, he was a good husband, father, grandfather, sibling. The success of his life was in the smiles, tears and presence of so many who lived in his love.
        For that, we should yearn. The rest should only bring us closer to that place.

        • Susie Miller

          Linda, I am sorry for your loss.
          Your words and experience cause me to pause. Listening to the Holy Spirit more often and quickly is how I want to be. Thank you for sharing this as I deeply impacted me today.


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