When I think about some of the things I’ve walked through in my life and how different, how heavy the burden would have been if I had not had the hope Jesus offers as I walked through those things, I realize just how much He’s helped me, and I’m reminded of the amazing hope He offers. There have been situations in my life that were tough, things that hurt, and had I not had God to bring me through, had I not had Him to place my hope in, I cannot imagine how I would have ever made it through.
A while ago, I was reading during my quiet time in Acts and I came across this verse:
“Therefore my heart rejoiced and my tongue exulted exceedingly; moreover, my flesh also will dwell in hope [will encamp, pitch its tent, and dwell in hope in anticipation of the resurrection].” ~Acts 2:26 AMP
I was blown away as I contemplated the idea of dwelling in a state of hope—setting up camp, pitching a tent, not going anywhere kind of camping in the HOPE of His resurrection, lingering and abiding there. Putting my eyes on that, keeping focus on that. I thought, “Wow! I want to do this. I want to be a hope dweller.” So, I prayed and asked the Lord to help me be a true hope dweller.
Some days, it’s “easy” to pitch my tent and hope and stay there, but other days things happen to test my hope dwelling status. In those moments, it seems like my flesh is chomping at the bit to move, and sometimes, it feels like before I even really know what has happened, my flesh has ripped up the stakes, rolled up the tent, and said, “Let’s move, lady!” (Here I realize that I am no better than the Israelites as they begged to go back to captivity in Egypt instead of continuing through to the promised land.)
And so begins the march toward old land, unhealthy land, the land of fear and worry where my flesh quickly sets up camp and hammers in stakes. Before long, it’s as though I have forgotten that I ever had intentions of continually dwelling in hope. My campsite in fear and worry begins to feel heavy and overwhelming and I struggle under the weight of it. Then God finds a way to remind me of what He showed me, of how how I wanted to pitch camp in hope.
As I wonder if it’s possible to get back to and camp in hope again, He reminds me gently of the practical steps I need to be taking that will take me back to hope. Taking thoughts captive-not dwelling on things that want to cause me to worry or fear. AND choosing to praise Him even when I feel overwhelmed which means I am taking my thoughts away from the trouble area and turning them towards the source of my hope.
If I’m honest with you, I will tell you that I have failed many times at dwelling in hope. Some days feel like the whole day is a failure. Others there are glimmers of hope while still others are bursting with hope. But I have come to realize that if I am never tested in this area, I will never learn how to change it and I will never really grow to the point where I really, deeply dwell in hope, to the point where the stakes are driven so deep it’s impossible to uproot them. I am so thankful for a Savior who walks beside me and guides and teaches me if I’ll listen. A Savior who reveals truth to me and then allows a way for me to learn to actually WALK in that truth.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. ~Romans 5:3-5, NASB
A friend recently shared a vision he’d had as he had been struggling and trying to find some answers. In this vision, he was standing at the top of one mountain, and could see himself at the same place on the next mountain. In between the two mountains was a valley. As he watched, it was as if God said, “Be prepared—you are going to go through this valley, but I will be with you and you will come out on the other side. It will be an easier path if you go through the valley with Me than if you try to do it on your own.”
As Christians, we are not exempt from the valleys, the pain in life, but we have a choice about how we go through them. Are going to go through them with the Lord and His easy yoke, the one that redeems the pain or are we going to struggle through them our own way, on our own terms? Will we go through kicking and dragging our feet and making the pain in the trial that much worse and quite possibly making the time in the valley last that much longer? Or do we stop, rest, and abide in Jesus and place our hope in Him to get us through? Do we focus on the overwhelming length of the deep valley that we can’t see our way out of or do we focus on the One who walks beside us and let Him guide our steps through?
Everyone faces valleys in life. I am not promised a life without them, but God hasn’t let go of me yet and I have His trustworthy promise that He won’t. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. ~John 10:27-29, NASB
Those valleys have the potential to produce “perseverance, proven character, and hope” in us. And I can tell you it’s true. Each step/trip through the wringer has made me stronger on the other side and even more confident in God and His grace and new every morning mercies. These battles have taught me who God is and who He wants me to be. What the enemy meant to tear me apart has only served to strengthen my relationship with the Lord though in the midst of it it may not have felt like that.
Have you pitched your tent in hope? Or are you dwelling elsewhere at the moment? Let the Lord show you what steps you need to take to get back to dwelling in hope. Each trip through a struggle, a valley has the potential to make your next stay in hope a little longer, to make you a little stronger if you’ll let God be the one to guide your steps through.