Summer of 2016 wrapped up a very painful and difficult season of my life. Twelve months of continual disappointment, feeling isolated and disconnected, broken relationships, and betrayal. It was as though I had been led down a dark tunnel by the promise that there would be a light at the other side, only to find a dead end. The summer was a season of repentance, refusing to give in to distractions from the pain, and choosing to sit in the sorrow for as long as it took for things to heal.
As I looked for some kind of hope, I was confronted with my absolute inability to pull myself out of my own pit. I was weak. I didn’t even know what I was supposed to pray for; I just knew that God was the only One whose promises I could trust anymore. All the words that others had spoken to “look on the bright side!” and “keep your chin up!” were lost on me. The promise that “we’re finally on the upswing” had fallen flat, and I was ready to punch anyone who ever told me that again.
But in my weakness, Christ is my defender and protector, and He actively fights for me every day. So I began praying, “Lord, I can’t see joy with my own eyes. I can’t battle this hopelessness. Please, fight for me. Because I can’t fight on my own. It’s beyond my power.” It became my daily prayer, in whispers and screams: “Please, Lord. Fight for me!”
Sometimes talk about “hope” feels naïve. Joy? Peace? Those are just words on the Starbucks red cups and no more real than Santa Claus. Even if our hope in Christ is real, the feeling of hope sure isn’t. Your efforts to fill up your life with distractions and imitations of hope—gifts, Christmas parties, “good cheer,” and even family—will still leave you feeling empty after everyone has gone home. But straining to feel hope is not the invitation we’ve received.
If you’re struggling to believe in the reality of our hope in Christ—hope that He really is healing brokenness and making all things new—don’t be afraid when you can’t manage to feel hopeful. As you enter into prayer this Christmas, submit your groans, your aches, and your feeling of hopelessness to the Lord and allow the Holy Spirit to intercede for you.