Hold Onto Hope While You're Waiting

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There is so so much I could say on the topic of waiting.  I could write pages and pages on the importance of patience, perseverance, contentment and hope.  Is it just me, or does it seem like we're always waiting for something? 

In the Waiting themed box of encouragement, you'll find the devotional, In Due Time. When I first came across Caroline's book, I was inspired by her determination to "seek joy in the trials as well as trust God in the waiting".  If you've read her blog or heard about her ministry called Moms In the Making, you know her hope is infectious.  She and I corresponded for months about including her devotional in our box and I am so glad God made a way.  Although Caroline and I share the same wait of infertility, her book and our Waiting themed box is about holding onto hope no matter what you're waiting on.

Hope is a funny thing.  It's something that seems to live inside of us that we don't develop or control.  It's just there.  "It springs eternal." No matter how devastated or discouraged we are, there is a little light of hope that keeps us going.  It's the thing that even through our tears, keeps us moving forward. 

One of my favorite scriptures that's given me hope and the courage to put one step in front of the other is...

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be”. Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead - since he was about a hundred years old - and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
— Romans 4:18-21

Abraham's hope against hope, reminds me that nothing is impossible with God.  This passage speaks to me personally because of my infertility experience, but my absolute favorite part is verses 20-21.  "Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God has power to do what He has promised."  Those verses can apply to anything you are believing God for.  Whatever you're waiting on, remember that God is all powerful.  He will bring all things together for your good at just the right time and until then, be encouraged by His word. 

There is a time for everything, and a seasons for every activity under the heavens
— Ecclesiastes 3:1
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
— Romans 8:28
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.
— Jeremiah 29:11

Be still and be reminded to be thankful for what you have now.  Don't compare what you have to what you anticipate having in the future, because whatever you can imagine is no where near as amazing as what God has planned for you!

So I started this blog talking about how hope is a funny thing.  Even on my most discouraged days, there has always been a tiny light of hope in my heart that has kept me going.  Even in situations where it made no sense, just like Abraham's hope that at 100 years old he would become a father, I've continued to hope against hope.  It's a feeling that's been hard for me to explain to other people, but when I read this poem by Emily Dickinson, I thought, "Yes, that's what hope feels like to me."

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -

That perches in the soul -

And sings the tune without the words -

And never stops - at all -

 

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -

And sore must be the storm -

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm -

 

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -

And on the strangest Sea -

Yet - never - in Extremity,

It asked a crumb - of me.

When I first read this poem, I thought it was beautiful, but I didn't fully understand it.  I identified with it, it described how I feel about hope, but I couldn't explain why. I've spent some time reading the analyses of literary scholars on what the metaphors in the poem symbolize. There are differing opinions on whether or not she intended any references to Christianity as it's documented that she struggled with her faith.  I am absolutely not a literary scholar. But here are my personal reflections of why I connected with this poem.  

Hope is the thing with feathers-

Here she is referring to a bird.  This spoke to me, because birds are used throughout the Bible as a symbol of hope.  In Genesis Chapter 8, Noah sends out a dove to see if the waters had receded from the earth.  Initially the dove came back, because there was water was everywhere and it could find no place to land. (v.9)  Noah waited and then sent the bird out again.  This time it returned with an olive leaf in it's beak. (v. 11)  Don't miss the encouragement in this verse!  Noah and his family and all those animals, were waiting on the ark.  I would guess that they were itching to get out after months and months of being cooped up in there.  He's sending this bird out for the second time, hoping that God will answer his prayer "yes, it's time to get off the ark," but instead of saying "yes," God says "wait" by sending the bird back with a branch.  I don't know a lot about birds, but I'm assuming it returned because there still wasn't anywhere for it to land, but it could grab this branch in it's beak, a symbol of hope, an encouragement for Noah that things would get better soon!  With this gesture, God gave Noah the courage to keep hoping - to hold on while he continued to wait.  Noah didn't rush out of the ark, he waited seven more days and sent the bird out again.  This time it didn't return and he knew that was God's "yes". (v. 12)  

That perches in the soul-

This line reminds me of Matthew 3:16 - "As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water.  At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him."  To alight means to settle, come to rest or perch.  When we accept Christ, the Holy Spirit perches in our soul.  Hope literally comes to dwell inside us.  "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  (Romans 15:13)  This for me explains why I can hold onto hope even when it may seem like all hope is lost.

And sings the tune without the words-
And never stops - at all -

These lines make me think about how with hope inside of us, our waiting can produce a beautiful song, a testimony to the faithfulness of God.  "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." (Romans 5:3-4)

And sweetest - in the gale - is heard-
And sore must be the storm-
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

Hope continues to "sing" it's song while it waits out the storm.  It's not abashed (embarrassed or ashamed) of believing.  Hope gives us faith, no matter what anyone else says.  And when others see our hope, it warms their hearts and encourages them too!

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -

Hope can be maintained anywhere.  No matter the circumstance we find ourselves in.

Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.

Hope is free to everyone and gives us comfort and peace.  It "springs eternal" and doesn't ask anything in return. 

If you study poetry, I'm sure you could give me a lesson on the meaning behind this poem, but I hope my personal refections remind you that like a bird that sings in the midst of a storm, hope is the optimism that can always be found inside of us, through the work of the Holy Spirit.  If you've accepted Jesus into your heart, then His Spirit dwells inside you and you have the power to hope against hope in every situation.  So do not waiver in unbelief, because God has promised to do great things for you.