Sometimes you have to give your own soul a good ol’ pep talk. And sometimes you have to give yourself grace. Every once in awhile, you give your soul a stern lecture.
The Psalms are full of all of these. For every joyful, painful, frightening, or discouraging situation you can almost always find a song from God’s Word. Many of the prophets speak to their souls too, after delivering God’s messages to people, some listening and some not. I’ll bet you 5 bucks your pastor gives his soul a talking-to every Sunday afternoon. Just like every mom speaks to her own soul in stillness of the morning or the chaos of 4:30pm. Everyone talks to herself or himself. Especially the healthy people.
This morning I cried myself through the traffic and spoke to my soul with firm words that need to sink in. You see, it’s been a tough time for a while here in the Nest.
I call it the Nest because it’s here in this closed-in, opened-up safe place where my wings flutter down and my songs call out. It’s here in this nest of broken twigs discarded by others that I’ve woven life together and covered experience with down to call it my own. This Nest is held in the Father’s Hand. It’s where I am filled with His love and presence, and where I write words that I hope will bless the world like the calls of other robins have blessed me. The Nest is my place, and I hope that by offering it, you’ll find a safe place for your fluttering heart and your honest song, too.
And, well … if life ebbs and flows, then this ebb is a web and I’m hanging by a thread of hope. Lately hope has been hard work. When darkness comes and the maybe’s turn into no’s, that’s what happens. When doors of possibility slam in your face and lights go out on your dreams, that’s what happens. When you pray the same prayer every day and the opposite of what you pray is what comes to pass, I’m sorry, but that’s just what happens. Hope no longer rises under you like a path, it dangles you like a rope. It’s hard work to hold on.
You have to hold onto it, though. Lose your grip on hope and lose your grip on sanity. Even I know that much. Your jaded soul knows it too. Because no matter how cynical we get, hope is all that keeps us from falling into the darkness.
Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless.
Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them. – Psalm 10:17
Hope is what you tell your heart to do in the face of disappointment.
When you move across the country to follow God’s voice and that umbrella over you collapses … you tell your heart to hope for another umbrella.
When you sacrifice your time to invest in the lives of others and they spill your time on the ground like yesterday’s dishwater … you tell your heart to hope for different people who will value your time.
When your husband applies for the 25th job opportunity and loses the position because he’s been too busy pastoring people for the past 15 years to have any experience jumping through hoops … you tell your heart to hope for another chance.
When your kids stop trying to make new friends at the third school in three years because “what’s the use?” … you tell your heart to hope for their smiles again.
When ________ … you tell your heart to hope for ___________.
Why? Because you know God’s character. You remember His faithfulness. You can’t forget the miracles He’s done for you time and time again because they’re branded into your mind. You tell your heart to hope because hoping for good is hoping for God. Because hope is faith, and even if you lose everything, you’ll never lose your faith.
Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you. – Psalm 25:5
So, the tears come again as I’m waiting at the light behind 5 cars. I’m almost to work and these red streaks on my cheeks must be replaced with a brave face. I take deep breaths and I give my soul a stern lecture. Because she is thinking again of letting go of hope’s thread this morning. She’s contemplating giving in to the doubts and the pain and the jaded skepticism. Her mind races to thoughts of “What if” and “never” and “why try?” Her fingers are slipping and she thinks it might be easier to let go. Hope is hard work sometimes.
Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God! – Psalm 42:11
And maybe that’s the key – Praise. I’ve been reading through the Bible again with a fresh set of spectacles. One lens is God’s Part. The other is My Part. When both lenses work together, the picture of redemption is clear. My part is praise. It gives me strength to hold onto hope, even when it’s only a thread. His part is to come through for me – in His time, with His will. Not mine. Not mine. Not. Mine.
Is He any less worthy of praise because my life is uncomfortable today?
Is He any less worthy because I’m hurt?
Is His Blood any less precious?
Is His hand any less sovereign? Any less powerful?
If He is still worthy, I will still praise Him. I will tell my soul to put my hope in Him. He has only always ever been Faithful. Even if He never gave me another answer, another thing, another blessing, His mercy is enough. I WILL hope. I WILL. He’ll do His part, and I’ll do mine …
and hope will hold.
Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him. – Psalm 62:5
Perhaps you’d like to add a quiet prayer in the comments here – a prayer for someone you know whose hope is a thread? Or maybe a prayer for your own soul? We’ll lift each other up to the Author of hope today.