How Do I Hang On to Hope When I’m Still Hurting?
“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.” Psalm 40:1 (ESV)
Are there deep disappointments in your life that seem to linger on and on? Do you feel like you’ve prayed the same prayers over and over, with little to no change?
I understand how hard that is. Over the last few years, I’ve walked through some of the most heartbreaking seasons. And although the circumstances of your life may be different, you probably have your own middle-of-the-night moments wrestling through tears, too.
There are memories that still hurt. Realities that make you wonder if you’ll ever feel normal again. Sufferings that seem forever long. And you’re disappointed that today you aren’t living in the promises of God you’ve begged Him to bring to pass.
In your most private moments, you want to scream at the unfairness of it all — words you don’t use around your Bible friends. But then there are more hopeful moments … when you want to turn up the praise music, lift up honest prayers and declare God is good even when the situation doesn’t seem good.
Hurting but still hoping — that is the human journey.
And that is where we find David in Psalm 40. In the first 10 verses, David praised God for delivering him, but then in verses 11 through 17, he was crying out for God to deliver him again. David was hurting but still hoping.
Hoping doesn’t mean we ignore reality. No, hoping means we acknowledge reality in the very same breath that we acknowledge God’s sovereignty — His absolute ability and power to work as He sees best.
Our hope can’t be tied to whether or not a circumstance or another person changes. Our hope must be tied to the unchanging promises of God. We hope for the good we know God will ultimately bring from our situation, whether the good turns out to match our desires or not. And sometimes that takes a while. The process often requires us to be persevering and patient.
Honestly, I know that can feel a little overwhelming. I want the promised blessing of Psalm 40:4 (ESV): “Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust …” But I forget that this kind of trusting in God is often forged in the crucible of longsuffering.
God isn’t picking on me. God is picking me to personally live out one of His promises. It’s a high honor. But it doesn’t always feel that way. I’ve got to walk through the low places of the process before I’m perfectly equipped to live the promise.
We read about some of the low places of the process in Psalm 40:1-3a (ESV):
“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.” (emphases added)
So while I want the solid rock on which to stand, first I have to wait patiently for the Lord to lift me out of the slime and mud and “set my feet” (v. 2). That word “set” in the original Hebrew is qum, which means “to arise or take a stand.” God has to take me through the process of getting unstuck from what’s been holding me captive before I can take a stand.
I also want that “new song” promised in the psalm (v. 3). Did you notice, though, what comes before the promise of a new song? It’s the many cries to the Lord for help. The most powerful praise songs are often guttural cries of pain that have turned into beautiful melodies.
I know this is hard. So let me be the one to lean in and whisper these words to you as we begin to wrestle through this journey together:
God is working things out. He’s not far away. He is right here with us. Even if our prayers aren’t answered in the way and the timing we want. Even when this process feels messy. We will trust God is good.
Lord God, I know You often work in ways I don’t understand. There are parts of my story that feel incredibly hard to live in, but I trust You are making something beautiful even out of those parts of my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.