‘But If Not,’ I Will Still Find Hope

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18

God hasn’t answered the biggest prayer I’ve been praying for over a year. And this request is coming months after another situation when He didn’t answer a prayer we’d been praying for five years. (And when I say He’s not answering, of course I mean He’s not answering the way I want Him to.)

I remind myself of God's sovereignty, and in Him alone I place my hope. - sandrapeoples.com

 

We had a plan. The next two years were laid out for us with timelines and budgets and t-shirts. And even though we followed the plan and stuck to the timeline, it isn’t working out that way. We followed God’s guidance and expected to be rewarded. Instead, we are suffering. Every one of us. It’s heavy and hard and I don’t like it.

Last week, after days of thinking and trying to understand how I was feeling (we INTJs aren’t so good with understanding our feelings), I finally came up with a name for it—hopelessness. I can’t see a solution. People are making suggestions and coming up with contingency plans, but I’m not convinced. When I lay my head on the pillow each night, all I can think is “This isn’t going to work.”

Almost two years ago I was on the phone with a therapist who was not helpful. I closed my door so the boys couldn’t hear me gasping for breath and raising my voice through my tears, “You are taking away our hope and we cannot live with out hope. It’s the only thing that gets me out of bed each morning.” Right now the only thing that’s getting me out of bed is the to do list.

So how do I find hope again? How do I learn to say with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, “God will answer our prayers, but even if He doesn’t, I will still worship Him”?

I remind myself of God’s sovereignty, and in Him alone I place my hope.

I don’t want to remind myself this is all from God. I bet Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn’t either as they faced the furnace. (Or Joseph in jail. Or Moses in the wilderness. Or Ruth and Naomi as they walked back to the home Naomi had left. Or David as he mourned the loss of his son. Or Jeremiah as he wept for his people. Or Zechariah and Elizabeth as they spent decades praying an unanswered prayer.) We like to give God credit for the results but not don’t always acknowledge His love and mercy in our suffering.

I want to blame someone else. If only he had come through. If only she would have said yes. Then plan A would still be working out. But ultimately what is happening is God’s will for us. What I currently view as suffering is God’s will for us.

He isn’t thwarted by detours or surprised when dates on the calendar come and go without goals being met. He is working all things out for our good. And our good doesn’t mean we are going to have success (just like having enough faith isn’t going to mean James will be healed of his autism).

I don’t know why I keep forgetting this lesson. My whole life has been an example of it. The book of James speaks of every good and perfect gift being from above, but who gets to say if what we’re experiencing isn’t a good and perfect gift? From God’s perspective it must be. As we know, His goal is our holiness, our sanctification. And through that comes hope.

Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:9-12

Houston in July feels a lot like a “burning fiery furnace.” And as we walk through it, I’m going to keep praying for exactly what I want to happen. Even when I don’t see any possible way for it to work out.

It’s not the results I have hope in, but God. That is why I can have “the full assurance of hope.” Why I won’t grow sluggish in my love for God or others. Why I will fight for that hope with faith and patience.

4 thoughts on “‘But If Not,’ I Will Still Find Hope

  1. Sandra, every day I wish I knew how to encourage and speak to all the heartache and difficulty you are facing. Or at least I wish Russellville was a whole lot closer to Houston than it is so I could give you a hug or a big bag of Twizzlers or both {and then have a “Twilight” marathon}.

    But these words, “But if not …” … friend, these are the hardest words of faith. And I am thankful for your friendship and your constant presence in my life. I am better because of you and I am here, whatever the next step is.

  2. Thank you for your transparency -we need to lift each other’s arms up in prayer at times!Lifting yours up right now♡

  3. I feel like we spoke on the phone before you wrote this post. I am in the thick of it too. In the past year, I have rehearsed my speech stating, “This isn’t how it was supposed to be! Obedience is hurting right now!” Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone. I am not crazy and I can still be a woman of faith and love my child. I really needed this encouragement. I pray that you stay encouraged as well. Your posts have been light in a very dark place in my life. I don’t have many Christian friends with special needs kids so empathy is rare. Thank you.

  4. Sandra, you said everything I’ve been feeling for so long! I have two young adult children with autism. I get completely overwhelmed by worry over what not only what today holds but how they will do more than just survive after we are gone. I DO trust God but isn’t it a mom’s perogative to be a wreck over her kids
    And Denie, I understand about the lack of Christian parents of disabled children. My HomeGroup at church could not love my family but they have NO clue (you know?). Yore welcome to friend me on FB or email me @ amyjoweeks26@att.net

Leave a Comment