Where's the strength to keep my hopes up?
What future do I have to keep me going?
Do you think I have nerves of steel?
Do you think I'm made of iron?
Do you think I can pull myself up by my bootstraps?
Why, I don't even have any boots!
(Ezra 6:8-13, MSG)
These days while going through Job may be difficult. I found a lot I could agree with in Eliphaz' first speech. How about "he gives firm footing to those sinking in grief?" When he said, "so the poor continue to hope," I felt like shouting amen! And I wondered briefly why God (and Job) got upset with his answer. A bit Romans 8:28-ish (I hate it when people quote that verse to me when I'm feeling down), but true, none the less.
But then Eliphaz listed all the good things happen to the righteous. They sounded like nothing bad ever happened to good people. Neither famine, war, gossip, loss of children--and on from there. He basically said, if Job was righteous, he wouldn't have suffered so severely. My heart screamed when I read, "You'll see your children grow up."
Job didn't like it either. His words that I quoted above put my feelings of deep sadness into words.
Before my daughter's death, the thing that saddened me the most was the removal of my son from my home when he was 15. When it became clear he would never again live with me, I felt such deep despair that I didn't know how I could survive it. Life didn't feel much worth living, but I knew I had an inner core of steel that kept me going. Of faith, of God, call it what you will. But I refused to give up on life. I lived in hope of the day that once I would have hope.
I bet we all have times in our lives when we ask, "what future do I have to keep me going?" I came name several such points in my life, which made me question the direction I had headed in. I had no future, at least not the future I had expected.
I lost the career I expected when I was kicked out of the master of music program at Southwestern Seminary. I went into Christian education instead, which was good. And God wasn't done with me and music, but in different ways.
I lost my dream of serving as an overseas missionary when my husband was kicked out of our last church. God instead has brought the world to me, and put in plenty of situations to share my faith.
I lost my dreams of parenting both my children to successful adulthood. With my son's arrest, I threw myself into writing. With Jolene's death, my writing career exploded.
I have questioned my ability to write with my continued health problems. So far, God keeps sending me the same vision: Yes, continue writing. But do it sensibly. Make smarter writing choices.
Each of those episodes sent into emotional whirlpools that dragged me under for awhile. Perhaps you're in a Job-like place right now, when you feel you have lost your hope for the future.
How about you? How have lost dreams led to a different future for you?