Yesterday, I found myself saying the phrase, “I’m trying not to get my hopes up.” After the words left my mouth, I thought about the ridiculousness of that phrase. I am trying not to get my hopes up? Can you really do that? Can you actually prevent your hopes from soaring? When signs are pointing toward to fulfillment of a desire, can you actually stop yourself from getting hopeful? I really do not think so. Hope happens.
When I said that phrase, here’s what I think I was trying to say, “I am super hopeful that this will work out, but I am trying to keep my thoughts and heart in check.” In other words, I do not want to put the cart before the horse. I want to be prepared if what I hope for does not happen.
What I now find myself sitting and wondering is: is this biblical? Is being prepared for disappointment in alignment with the heart of God?
God calls us to be people who have faith. God defines faith as, “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).
It appears that God encourages us to have our hopes up. Have confidence. Have assurance that what you do not currently have will be yours. The important question is: Is He encouraging confidence and assurance about _______ ? (Fill in the blank with whatever current desire you have)
People often say to one another, “You just have to have faith-” implying that if you want something bad enough, you can almost wish it into being. The problem with this line of thinking is that it encourages us to have faith in a specific outcome rather than encouraging us to have faith in the One who holds all of our outcomes in the palm of his hand.
Like all of the verses in the Bible, we can not take this one verse and isolate it and mold it to fit our thinking. We can not hold tightly to a desire and say, “I just have to have enough faith.” We were meant to have our thinking molded by God’s Words, not the other way around.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).
Discerning when to have faith regarding a matter can be tricky. Should I have “faith” that I will get what I want every time I want something? Obviously, not. It is altogether too possible that, at times, we want things that are not what GOD wants for us. In which case, a loving Father would not give his child something that will not ultimately be good for him or her.
Here me now. God cares deeply about our desires. At the same time, God is most concerned about the transformation that takes place in us when we renew our minds. To “renew” means to “reestablish or resume after an interruption.” In other words, we have to stop thinking the way the world thinks (let’s be honest, the “world’s” way of thinking is quite me-centered). After we have stopped thinking about our circumstances through the lens of us at the center of the universe, we can reestablish our thoughts anew. After we have surrendered our thinking and allowed God to mold it, then we are able to discern his will regarding a matter or desire.
If I am understanding this correctly, here’s the application: whenever we find ourselves hopeful about something, He wants us to pause. He wants us to take what we are thinking about (the desire) as an offering to him. We hold our thoughts out with outstretched arms on a platter saying, “Here, you can have these thoughts. Give me back whatever portion I should keep and just throw out the rest.” In surrendering our thoughts to Him, our minds are renewed and freed to think according to God’s ways and not our own nor the ways of the world. Enter PEACE.
We receive the blessing of peace when we choose to surrender to and trust the One who is trustworthy.
I think we have found a fine line. God does not want us to invest time, energy, or thoughts in preparing for disappointment, but he does want to us to be prepared for a different outcome than we may be currently imagining. We were meant to put our hopes in the goodness of God. God really is good. His goodness never changes, even when our circumstances are less than desirable. Trusting in and hoping in God’s goodness leaves room, not for disappointment, but rather for an unfolding of the story that may look different from the picture you have seen in your head.
We all try to guess what the ending will be. We watch a movie or read a book and our minds are swirling as we wonder how THIS story will wrap up. Our stories are far more precious and priceless to our Maker. He is writing a good story. Your story. Your story may have appeared to have more valleys than others, but you have to trust that the story He is writing is good. And like any good author, as He writes your story, he is most concerned about your character development.
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4).
This recent opportunity to exercise caution with my heart had nothing to do with pregnancy or the desire for a child, however, the battle with trying not to get my hopes up regarding another child is a familiar one for me. They are thoughts I still have to offer to God as we wait for that portion of our story to be revealed. It does not really matter what the desire is, the need to keep your heart in check regarding the desire is essential. What are some of your yet-to-be-met-desires? Leave them in the comment section below and I will join you in praying. I will pray for the desires of your heart and I will join you in praying for discernment about whether you need to stand in faith regarding this desire.
…I am “confident and assured” that I will soon have more to share about my current desire that prompted this blog. Stay tuned…