You know that feeling when you get woken up out of a deep, deep sleep? It's as if you are being pulled bodily out of a very dark, very comfortable place. It is unpleasant, uncomfortable, and you can't help being a little irritated even before you actually surface. This happened to me recently, and the raw discomfort of that sensation has been lingering with me.
Last night a friend was talking with me about hope.
She said, "Hope is suffering."
My mind immediately went to that waking sensation.
Hope is not the same thing as optimism.
Hope is like that uncomfortable transition rising up out of a deep sleep.
"The evidence of things not seen."
The evidence of a woken world. Something far more tangible, vibrant, and breathtaking than the soft dream world I cling to.
People often say that our lives are only a moment, a breath before the span of eternity. If this is true, than the analogy is even more potent. That transition, truly only takes a moment.
This year has been one of suffering. Hope.
Painful changing, painful communicating, painful working towards better things that we hope for but do not yet experience. Hope is what keeps a soul, a relationship, a marriage, a world alive. Or rather, it is the evidence that soon we will truly be AWAKE!
Ben and I have been so blessed in this first year of our marriage (anniversary coming up May 4th!).
We are learning to hope. We are learning how painful that can be.
It feels like this invisible barrier that keeps me from throwing up my hands and saying, "Enough!" It compels me to work through things when I would rather sulk or stew. It gives him the patience to weather my 'righteous anger'. God promised us, and we promised God, to love, to cherish, to hope. Now we are in the thick of it and finding that easy answers are few and far between.
This life is breathtaking.
As in, you just fell off the swing and got the wind knocked out of you, breath taking.
Or you hiked to the top of a rise and discovered Middle Earth spread out in glory before you, breath taking.
This God. He's a little nuts by all the standards in the book. He loves asymmetry, complex math, and these human creatures that seem to have a knack for screwing up just about anything. He laughs a lot, and He also cries a lot. He is deeply passionate about everything. And He is GOOD, like we've never even seen. His woken world... I can't begin to imagine. I just know that coming awake from sleep is uncomfortable. Hope is uncomfortable.
It's okay to be skeptical. Anyone who would willingly choose to be in a constant state of change and discomfort is a weirdo. I confess to this wholeheartedly.
Serving God isn't a side hobby, and the payoff in this world is sketchy at best. One minute we've got every good thing, the next we're wandering in the wilderness babbling about faith and water.
But, that's also true to how the rest of creation lives. I mean, any religion that promises eternal spring or perfect equilibrium, must not have been paying attention anytime during the last 12 months. It's a nice thought, but it sure isn't real.
Anyway. All this to say, life is uncomfortable. God is too. Pain happens. So does Joy. Ultimately, although none of us want to go through extreme discomfort, I'm pretty sure no mother would wish her baby to simply remain in the womb forever, and most sleepers do not wish to remain comatose.
So may God speak over your Life.
May He speak words that pull us out of deep slumber into waking.
May He speak words that make us hope.