The line between hope and faith can be blurred. Prayers are offered up and poured out and lifted high, and we can be disappointed in God’s silence. We begin to doubt His love, and fundamentally, we doubt that God is who He says He is.
We tend to hope and pray for the things we can see because that is what we know. We hope for physical healing and good news. We can grasp those things, and they seem good to us. We want to see and hold our blessings as a tangible evidence of God.
Marissa’s latest scans were mostly good, but we didn’t see the dramatic results we had hoped for. She has a difficult, risky surgery coming up with so much at stake and no guarantees. I fell and broke my ankle while we were at Duke, and our van quit on a busy highway.
Some days it is harder to find the light.
When prayers are answered in ways that are puzzling, in ways that delay hope and seem powerless to our finite minds, we can falter. Where is the power to heal? Where is the power to overcome evil? Where is the power to rescue?
When we struggle with the emptiness of unanswered prayer, we need to examine the substance of our faith. What are we trusting in? What are we hoping for? Our hope can falter if it rests on people or events or circumstances. Our faith is in God Who is both mysterious and revealed–the victorious Savior, the Almighty God, the all-knowing, all-powerful, always good, never-changing Father.
Faith in God is the real substance of our hope. Faith goes beyond what we can see and fathom and comprehend. It rests in Someone real and known, solid but unseen, whose ways are past finding out. Our faith is bigger than what we can hold in our hands. It is bigger than our hopes. It is more than goodness, more than answered prayer. It is as real as God, as big as God.
He restores our hope in subtle ways. He assures us daily by countless acts of grace. He helps, He carries, He enables. Sometimes we are aware of just a misty shadowing, like a sprinkling of rain that hardly seems to matter but slowly seeps deep in the soil preserving the root and strengthening the plant. We are longing for the cleansing rain, the kind of rain that floods and enlarges the river and carries us away, far away from the storm. We want the trial to end, the answers to come. We long for the heavy showers of blessing–for the miraculous, victorious, visual response to our trouble.
But we can learn to delight in the mercy drops. The drops that cool and freshen and sustain. The hope-restoring drops that make us yearn for God and the fulfillment of His promises. The drops which draw us close to the One who sends them.
Drops of mercy. We see them every day. They assure us of His love.
They remind us that the rain will come.
Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth. (Hosea 6:3)
They waited for me as for the rain and opened their mouth as for the spring rain. Job 29:23
May he come down like rain upon the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. Psalm 72:6