The God of HOPE...no place God can't go
Many years ago, something died in me. I didn't know when it happened, but I knew it happened. I had a routine. I did the same thing every morning. I would get up early, go outside on my swing, pray, read the Bible and meditate on God. Somewhere along the way, even in my dedication, something died in me.
Looking back, I can see when hope started dying, but at the time I wasn't aware of it. Our mind has two tracks. We can speak out loud while the other voice in your mind quietly says something else. It went something like this: I would be praying about this particular situation and "the voice" in the background of my mind would say, "That's not going to happen." Or, I would be reading the Bible and a voice would say, "That's not true, because it's never happened for you." Or, I would be studying to teach and something would say, "Don't teach that because you know it hasn't happened for you."
The truth is, it hadn't happened and eventually, I guess I believed "the voice" that kept telling me it would never happen.
I distinctly remember the day when I knew I had lost all hope of God answering this prayer. I was sitting in my swing looking out over the backyard, my flowers and a lush, beautiful woods. It was a bright, sunny morning, but I didn't feel like it was. My heart was heavy and I felt lifeless and alone. A gentle wind was blowing and as I watched the fluttering of green leaves, I remember thinking, "This is it. This is all there is. I've prayed for years and year, but it hasn't changed. I guess it never will."
I felt so alone. I felt like God was miles from me and certainly not listening. I didn't want to talk about it. I didn't want to pray about it. In fact, for days, instead of praying, I mostly sat on the swing in deep thought. Sometimes, I just sat there with no thought at all. I just sat. This went on for weeks.
No one around me, my family included, seemed to know what I was going through. The best way I can describe my inner feeling is, a deep emptiness. I simply felt like an empty vase or vessel. Especially, when I prayed, I felt lifeless inside. It wasn't that I didn't believe any longer, because I did. I even started praying again, but I subconsciously avoided praying for things I knew wasn't going to be answered anyway. The Bible says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick." That's where I was ... sick in spirit, and didn't know it.
I read that verse and knew I had to do something about my empty filling. I had to get hope back, but I wanted to wallow in self-pity. I could have let lifelessness and depression become a pit, but something in me knew I had to hang on to God's promises. I no longer read certain things in the Bible or thought about what I had been praying about for years. It was easier to ignore it than to fight it. Instead, I read more "comfortable" things in the Bible and avoided the things that were never answered for me.
I remember asking God to restore my joy, my hope and my faith. Eventually, it all came back... including hope, but I can tell you it wasn't a quick, easy, or painless process. Those of you who have been depressed know exactly what I'm talking about.
Even when I was going through the toughest times, I would force myself to read at least one Bible verse a day. Most of the time, I had to force myself to pray, because I didn't think my prayers were being heard anyway. Most of my prayers were "on the go" prayers. Praying in the car, at a movie, at work...but at least, I kept praying. In time, my persistence and God's mercy won the battle.
In the end, I can honestly tell you the experience increased my faith in God. I learned He really will bring you through victorious on the other side. There is no place God can't go. When it feels like all hope is gone, it really isn't. You can, and will, be the head and not the tail if you continue in His Word. Sometimes we go through things to force us to move forward. Sometimes it takes devastation to move us out of our "comfort" zone and into a higher realm.
During that time, I realized unanswered prayer is really not unanswered. It is God's divine wisdom to withhold something to give us something even better. He can't give us anything better when we hold so tightly to what we think we want "right now". Now the GOD OF HOPE fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost (Rom 15:13). There is no place God can't go.