I have been trying to get a post out for a few weeks now but I kept struggling to figure out how to say everything that has been in my heart. I’ve realized there is no way to make that happen in one post so I’m going to try share over several posts (hopefully I’ll get them out by Christmas!). Today, I want to share about how the Lord has burned the word “hope” into me over the last few months. I hope that it can encourage anyone who might need to see the power that it holds. It is a mighty weapon that I didn’t realize the strength of until Father showed it to me. Hope helps bring down mental strong holds; it helps protect against lies from the enemy; it pushes us to align our perspective with heaven’s; it stomps out anxiety; it is fertile soil where faith can grow. If you’re journeying through any thing that feels like a wilderness, I hope this post encourages your heart 🙂
Zach and I walked into a lot of unexpected things at the beginning of this year. You could call it a wilderness season. We felt a little like Abraham, “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (Heb 11:8) We started out the year walking in the direction of the Lords voice, but having no idea where it was taking us. I found myself at the end of myself multiple times over the first 6 months of 2017 (I didn’t know it was possible to get to the end of yourself so repeatedly in such a short period of time. ::humbling::). I would reach a place where I felt like I had nothing left in me and Father would remind me again and again that it’s never my own strength he wants me to walk in, in any area of my life. Often times we don’t see all the ways we’re relying on our own strength until new circumstances put that strength to the test and it is found lacking. When I found myself in those places of refining, that’s where Lord would come in His goodness and fill me up with Himself to keep going.
By May, I could tell I’d started to let the wilderness affect my heart. I was hot, the air felt dry, and my heart was thirsty. I started to feel my heart begin to become guarded against expecting our circumstances to change in certain areas. I’d been declaring, expecting, hoping for victory to manifest in several areas of our life but I had grown tired in this wilderness. As the months passed and things seemed to actually be going backwards, I started to lose the zeal in my expectancy and my heart began to settle into places of wilderness. The enemy began to up-the-anti on the attacks on my mind, not with outrageous lies, but with subtle compromises in my hopes. “Maybe this really is how our life is going to always be. Maybe things aren’t going to improve.” I’m not going to go into the specifics of all this attack affected but I will say it touched every hope I had for my future as a wife, a mother, a daughter of the King, and it attacked my hopes for my husband & our family’s destiny. My hope began to wane and I began to wonder if the desert was going to be my home. I began to settle in the wilderness.
There was a day at the beginning of June when I was spending time with the Lord and in tears, I was asking “what to I do with this place?” I could feel the wall up in my heart when I asked the question. To be completely honest, it felt like I was asking the ceiling that question as much as I was asking Father. Despite where my heart was, in His grace and kindness He answered me. He spoke into my spirit as clearly as if He were seated on the floor with me in the flesh and he said “Madison, I want you to be brave enough to hope”. His response stunned me. It wasn’t what I was expecting to hear at all. I was expecting something like “Persevere, don’t give up, be steadfast…” Instead, He called me to hope. In that word, He showed me that I’d been settling in the wilderness because I’d grown afraid to keep hoping. At once, my eyes were opened to see what my heart was lacking and I found myself with a new weapon for the desert: the weapon of hope.
I immediately responded to His word and grabbed onto the weapon he had extended to me. Yes, I will be courageous enough to hope. Those of you who are in the wilderness know: it can truly feel like it takes courage to declare hope when everything around you seems to be telling you you’re never getting out of the dessert. There is power in agreement, especially when you’re agreeing with the Father himself, and as soon as I agreed with His word I felt it completely dismantle the wall that had started to go up in my heart. Hope flowed out like a stream in the desert. I started to meditate on every promise of hope in the scripture. Here are just a few:
- “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Is 40:31 We can walk in the dessert and not faint because of hope!
- “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Ps 130:5. The word of the Lord is a trust worthy place for our hope.
- “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful…Therefore do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere for when you have done the will of God you will receive what he has promised.” Heb 10: 23, 35-36. We can hope unswervingly because He who promises is faithful!
- “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and certainty of things unseen.” Heb 11:1. Hope often precedes faith. Things hoped for make rich soil for faith to grow in.
I started to press into hope like I never had before. I felt the Lord pouring out supernatural measures of hope as I pressed into it. It wasn’t something I had to conjure up in myself. It was more like I was drinking it in and letting it quench my heart. It revived me. This weapon destroyed any perspectives that had started to form in me that weren’t from heaven. It protected me from the enemy’s lies. It eradicated anxious thinking. I started a word study on “hope” and I learned that in the Old Testament, the common Hebrew word that we translate as “hope” is “Yachal” meaning “to wait patiently”. In the New Testament, the Greek word that we translate as “hope” is “Elpis/Elpiso” meaning “to have confident expectation of good; to trust”. The same English word came from two very different original connotations. Before Jesus, one’s “hope” was in waiting on God to speak or move on your behalf but people didn’t have the confident expectation of good yet because they didn’t have intimacy with Him. When Jesus came, he added confidence and goodness to our “waiting” by opening the door to intimacy with Him and the kingdom. Hope/waiting became something exciting! Through Jesus, hope became more than just wishing and waiting to see what happens. It became a confident expectation that good is on its way because we know Him and his heart towards us. It is directly connected to intimacy. It still involves waiting, but there is an expectation of goodness that we now have. How wonderful is Jesus?! I have felt a new empowerment in the desert as I’ve continued to wield my weapon of hope.
I feel like some of you reading this are in the very place I was in in May. You have been journeying through your own season of wilderness contending, hoping, praying and standing strong in faith but nothing seems to be happening. All you see is desert on the horizon. I want to encourage you, fix your eyes on the Faithful One and move them off of the terrain of the wilderness. Do not begin to settle there. We cannot fall into the trap of beginning to call the desert our home. It is not and will never be our home! We will journey through wildernesses but they are never our promised land. We must not forget that. The enemy would love to convince you that the wilderness is your home and therefore get you to start believing that Father’s plans for you just aren’t as good as you thought they were. If he can get you to believe that and doubt God’s goodness, it can cause you to build a home in the wilderness and stop pressing forward to your promised land. Don’t you dare fall for that. You are a daughter (or son) of the King of Kings. You know who your Father is, you know his love for you is fierce, and all of his promises are true. Never view the wilderness as your home. It was never intended to be your place of residence, only a place of refining. Keep your eyes fixed on the lover of your soul and be confident of his faithfulness in the wilderness. He is worthy of our confidence and hope in the dessert.
Be brave enough to hope again, even when promises seem postponed over and over. Take up your weapon of hope and feel your faith growing as you wield it. (“Faith is the EVIDENCE of things hoped for…” Hope often precedes faith!) We have to make sure that our hope is deeply rooted in Jesus himself, not in just what we want to receive from Him. As I heard a sweet friend say recently “We must want the Giver more than we want the gift.” Our hope isn’t in receiving a blessing, or even in the fulfillment of promises. It’s in Him, the person of Jesus. When we put our hope in anything other than fully in Him, we open ourselves up to the possibility of growing weary in the wilderness. When we put our hope confidently in Him, we have the promise that we will soar even when desires seem unfulfilled. He is more concerned with our heart than our comfort. Even if the fulfillment of a promise feels deferred again and again, he sustains through his presence. He is good. He is always faithful. We have this hope as an anchor for our soul; firm and secure. Take up your weapon and thrive in your wilderness. You will thrive in the desert when your hope is in Him and it will steady your feet as you near your promised land.