(Not) Afraid to Hope

NOTE:  We know Monday is a holiday, and so maybe there won’t be as many “fasters” out there this round  But hopefully, you’ll still find an encouraging impetus to keep praying in what’s written below by Amy Martin, one of our new writers….  Have a great Memorial Day!  –Connally

We are fasting and praying on Mondays for God to give the gift of marriage to those who desire it, work change in men, and work change in us. We’re praying for a fresh wave of God-honoring relationships that lead to God-honoring marriages.

One of my graduate school professors calls it “tough-minded optimism:” that skill of looking painful realities in the face without losing hope.  In terms of being single, it was a skill that I couldn’t quite master.  So my solution of choice was to simply stop hoping.  I didn’t stop believing in God, or in His sovereign timing, or in His goodness.  I simply thought it would be easier to keep my expectations low, and then I could be pleasantly surprised if He decided to bring good gifts, including maybe, you know, a husband, into my life.

It seemed so much more rational.  So much more intelligent, and measured, and emotionally manageable.  This way, I wasn’t surprised to find myself at another wedding or another baby shower or another disappointing date.  This was, after all, my life.  I had come to terms with it and was “fine.”  Really.  Well, mostly.

Thank goodness I was wrong!

Low expectations are more a sign of my heart condition than of God’s character.   It says I think he only gives good gifts to others.  It says I’m not really sure if He can come through on this one.  It says that I already know how this is going to turn out, so I should just not get my hopes up.  It says that I question His grace, His sovereignty, His will.

The thing is, we don’t serve a measured, manageable God.  We serve a God who is described as both a tender, loving Father and a consuming fire.  He pursues us and catches us, in the words of Rich Mullins, in “the reckless raging fury they call the love of God.”  We serve an all-powerful God who is not bound by time, and whose plans are unchangeable and unimaginable: “No eye has seen or ear has heard what God has prepared for those who love Him.”

We serve an expectations-defying God.  He parts seas, raises the dead, heals the sick, welcomes home the prodigal, and puts the lonely in families.  He saves sinners and adopts them as His sons and daughters.  He is the One “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.”  And so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised when He obliterates my stoicism with the reality of His love.

Yes, I’m still single but I’m no longer afraid to believe that His love for me is awe-inducing and heart-transforming.  Not afraid to trust that the God who made me also has my future under control.  Not afraid to believe that His character is utterly dependable.  Not afraid to ask boldly of a heavenly Father who knows all, directs all, and completes all.

So as we fast and pray on this Monday, yes, we should acknowledge the often-difficult road of singleness, but let’s not forget this great God we serve, and the solid basis He gives for hoping boldly.

Many Blessings in the Journey,

Amy

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15 Responses to (Not) Afraid to Hope

  1. Pingback: Love That Won’t Let Go | fast. pray.

  2. E says:

    The hope you have as well as the emotional distance you put between you and your desires should be managed and decided only with God !!!

    The character of God in one thing – it is revealed in the Bible. But connecting His character with the kind of hopeful expectations you have is WRONG.

    So….in your personal relationship with God, if He prompts you to hope foar marriage, then do it wholeheartelly. If He doesn’t say anything about marriage to you, the don’t assume it, as if His goodness will eventually give you marriage – just live in peace with the present status and life you have with God = that really means He rules over your life and you are walking with Him in youful peaceful surrender and loving obedience no matter what.

  3. Jen says:

    I read this paragraph today, basically in utter shock that you pretty much read my thoughts. And what an amazing thought that God is so much more than we think He is!

    I think I’m going to have to read this everyday from now on, to remind me.

    Thank you! 🙂

    lovechristdesiremarriage.wordpress.com

  4. Pingback: pondering « Elisabeth Adams

  5. Daniela says:

    Thank you for your encouragement Amy. I’m 39 years old, and I’ve been waiting and praying for a godly husband since I got baptized at age 23. It’s always comforting to know that there are others who are in the same situation. I really can’t say that it would be ok for me if I remain single, but I’ve been praying more earnestly lately that the Lord may show me how He wants to use me as a single woman right now and that He may help me to really put Him first in everything. I do realize that a man won’t give me the ultimate fulfilment in life, yet the Lord put this desire in my heart, so how can I ignore it? I find it a good idea to fast one day a week for this purpose, and I will consider it.

  6. Stacie says:

    Amy is an outstanding writer – I look forward to reading all her posts! Thank you for the encouragement. Her word choice shows her intelligence and deep personal connection to what she writes. Beautiful!!

  7. Theresa says:

    I can relate to this on so many levels! I remember really losing hope around age 31 I think. Then a friend from church called me and left me a voicemail and said, “in your preparing for the worst, you have lost your hope for the best and that’s not good.”

    That was so true, but I didn’t know how to start dreaming again, I had been so discouraged personally and professionally. Then I dated a guy for two years and we broke up when I was 35. I got depressed and lost 10 pounds. I was truly broken. I started seeing a counselor and she really helped me turn my perspective around.

    I am still single and 40 years old now, but I have hope again. And it has nothing to do with my circumstances. It has to do with choosing to believe again. Not being afraid to hope for miracles because God is not limited to my circumstances and God loves to show off.

    I have been cautiously dating someone for about 6 months. I am partly afraid to love again, but I heard God say to me, “You are free to love because I am your security.” No matter what happens with this guy, even if it doesn’t work out- I will be okay. I am free to love. God will catch my fall.

  8. fast. pray. says:

    Anon–
    I do get this tension. Oh, my heart goes out to you! Having spearheaded the fast.pray concept, and being the only one of the original team not yet married, I too have wondered about “hope.” Of course, how couldn’t I? I’d be like a total nut to not question, wonder, etc. I’ve wondered if I’m somehow like Moses who because he banged a stick on a rock, doesn’t get to go into the Promised Land. But through all this praying and fasting, I’ve found my Hope shift–it has shifted from what he might and can deliver (and I think Amy is 100% right to call us to remember his incredible capacity and love) to the reality that he has good for me–in fits and starts in this life (b/c we know it never 100% comes together in this life) and into eternity. I’m going to keep praying for and seeking out marriage not b/c I’m convinced that in this life it will be mine (girl, none of us knows anything about tomorrow, ultimately), but because He’s our heavenly Father, he loves us and treasures the content of our hearts, and so I offer my heart and its complexities & yearnings back up to him. Truly, my heart goes out to you in the discouragement. And from where I sit (in my faithful white chair), I just want to say, “Take Courage. He is good.” I know this to be true, even in the context of hopes not yet–or possibly ever in this life–realized. He is good. I would stake my life on it. –Connally

  9. Anon says:

    I wish I could continue hoping, but I just can’t do it anymore. Yes, we do serve an expectations-defying God. But that doesn’t mean that he will defy MY expectations. I may very well be single for the rest of my life — that may be his will for me. And I don’t think that my inability to hope means that I am questioning his sovereignty. I know he is sovereign — he will do what he will. For the sake of my own sanity, I can’t hope anymore. It is just too painful.

  10. Andrea says:

    singlesouthernlady, that last paragraph is so good and so true. I think of it often, especially as I have watched three friends become widows and others abandoned while watching others still long as I do. Thank you for that beautiful comment.

  11. singlesouthernlady says:

    This is something I needed to hear and that I struggle with. This week I am coming to the realization that another dating relationship with a seemingly nice guy is coming to an end, its the anniversary of my broken engagement, and my baby sister is having a baby, yet one more milestone she hits before me.

    Last night I remember thinking that if I started accepting that this was my lot in life, and quit expecting or hoping for more, then these hurts wouldn’t sting so badly this week. I would accept them instead of realizing the pain associated with another heartbreak, and 3 in one week! But then I read your post, and as always, i was encouraged.

    I also wonder if those who long the most in life, who hurt, who hope when nothing seems very worth hoping for…if those people end up the most joyful at seeing the Lord provide…afterall, they know what years WITHOUT feel like, so when they are blessed WITH, they must truly see the Lords faithfulness

  12. Loretta says:

    Oh, this is so true!! I can so totally relate, and am very thankful that the Lord has brought me to a place where I can truly trust Him. Thank you so much for sharing!

  13. Stacey says:

    So incredibly amazing!! This is me…i needed to hear these things and be reminded of them! I have definitely been one to feel it’s easier not to think about it because it hurts too much. Lately, the Lord has been impressing on my heart that He wants to hear from me even and many times especially through my tears. Those tears are precious to Him. But thank you so much for sharing because I need to hear it again and again, because my stubborn mind often forgets! Thank you, thank you!!

  14. Andrea says:

    Amy,

    Thank you for sharing. That has exactly been my perspective, though never wanting it to be and often not even realizing it. Thank you for this bit of encouragement!

    Andrea

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