Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

Into the Depths

on August 15, 2014
Hope or Despair

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Anne Shirley:  Can’t you even imagine you’re in the depths of despair?
Marilla Cuthbert:  No, I cannot. To despair is to turn your back on God.

I love Anne of Green Gables and I love this quote but Marilla had it wrong. Despair is “the complete loss or absence of hope.” It’s not to turn your back on God but to believe He’s turned His back on you.

People are often surprised to learn that the loneliness of singleness can lead to feelings of desperation. “You’re really that upset … just because you don’t have a boyfriend?” And the answer is yes—because we directly tie the things we believe will make us happy to God. He’s our provider. So, when we spend our lives asking for one thing and He remains consistently silent on the matter—a refusal without a reason—we start to wonder if it’s not that He’s saying no but that He just doesn’t care. We’ve been forgotten.

And we lose hope.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick …
                                                    ~Proverbs 13:12a

Recently, I heard a friend say she was so angry she’d rather die than live a single life. And she directed that anger at God because she believed He’d promised marriage and a family years before. Now she felt He had abandoned her. What else was there to do but give up on life?

Hopefully, we can agree this is an extreme response. And, honestly, I don’t think she actually wants to die. I don’t know her well enough to say that with certainty but I do know I’ve made the same threat myself. People who do kill themselves, from what I understand, don’t announce it. They don’t want anyone to try and stop them. When someone does say something, it’s because they want the depth of their disappointment and heartache to be known.

When I was young I went through periods of despair when I thought about cutting my wrists. I even slid a razor blade along my fingertips a few times and watched myself bleed. To be honest, though, I didn’t want to die. I just wanted people—and God—to know how miserable I was. I wanted someone to pull me out of the mire.

What stopped me each time was the thought, what if tomorrow was the day God planned to change my life? I’m not talking about clinical depression here but about the grief that hits us when a dream goes unfulfilled. That’s what happened with my friend. Her dream didn’t come true. A promise was broken.

But is that how we should see God? As some great and powerful Oz-like being who grants our wishes if we only click our heels together? When we say, “If you loved me, you’d do this for me,” then that’s exactly how we’re seeing Him. And, once again, we’re making God the provider of the dream instead of the dream itself. How would our disappointments, even our very lives, change if we could actually comprehend that God is better than any dream? That if we set our eyes on Him alone, our Well of Hope will never run dry.

… but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.
                                                                   ~Proverbs 13:12b

If, on the other hand, we place our hope in a person or even a situation, we’re expecting too much from an earthly thing. People disappoint. Situations change. God doesn’t.

Yes, He’s our provider—He protects and strengthens and watches over us. Mostly, though, He provides Himself.

And that’s all we’ll ever need.

In whom—or what—do you place your hope? Have you come to a place where God is enough?

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3 responses to “Into the Depths

  1. Carole Brown says:

    Sharyn, you amaze me w/your posts. So wise! How do we, with our limited knowledge, know our dreams, if we do get them, will be exactly what we want? We humans are always so fickle. I want this, I know it’s the right thing, and then turns out, it’s NOT what we want. sigh. Good post!

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