I was so upset… so hurt and grieved and discouraged and frustrated, so hopeless and helpless… I just wanted to vomit. For days I’d been feeling this way, walking around under a black cloud that wouldn’t lift. Couldn’t lift.
This was a couple of years ago.
I’d been fasting and praying for our nation and the world itself, hoping against hope that God would DO SOMETHING to open people’s eyes… to shine the light of His truth… to bring revival… to stay His hand and give us more time to get it right. Because I could see the road we were on, and it horrified me.
There were wars and rumors of wars. Acts of terrorism and violence. Racism, genocide, and ethnic cleansing. Religious persecution. Poverty, slavery, and sex trafficking. Political scandals and corruption. Moral and cultural issues threatening to tear society (ours and everyone else’s) apart.
But God didn’t answer my prayers the way I wanted Him to. In fact, some pretty major events had actually gone the exact opposite way. Most emphatically.
At the same time, I’d also been praying for my friends and family and myself… for a litany of health issues, relationship issues, work issues, financial issues, emotional and spiritual issues. And everywhere I looked, I just saw more problems, more pain. More heartache.
I found myself asking: Where was God in all of this? What was the point of hoping and praying and “hanging in there,” if nothing changed – or things only ever got worse?
I felt completely and utterly hopeless.
And I wasn’t the only one.
One day I got talking with my little brother – the one who likes to get all philosophical – and he admitted he’d been wrestling with some of the same frustrations, the same disappointments (like a lot of other people we knew). But then he made a really interesting observation. He reminded me of a scenario in one of our favorite book series, The Chronicles of Narnia.
In nearly every book, the Great Lion Aslan – who is a representation of Jesus – calls children from our world to come to the land of Narnia to help save it from some disaster, learning some important lessons about life and themselves and Him along the way.
In The Last Battle [spoiler alert] Narnia’s King Tirian finds himself in the worst crisis of all — and prays desperately that Aslan will send him help, some of those children who always seem to appear in Narnia’s darkest days. And sure enough, Jill and Eustace suddenly arrive.
But to Tirian, Jill, and Eustace’s horror, things only go from bad to worse. No matter what they do, they can’t seem to turn the tide. Because this time, Narnia can’t be saved. They aren’t there to save it. They’re there to make a last stand, to be faithful to the end. To be a light in the darkness, a witness to the Truth, to rescue a few who have ears to hear it, and give other faithful friends the courage not to compromise.
This time, when Aslan appears, it’s NOT to set things right for a little while and then disappear again. It’s to destroy the old, flawed, sin-marred Narnia and to welcome His servants into the new one – the better one, the more real and true and perfect one – His forever Kingdom. A beautiful place where they can hang up their swords and rest and fellowship and celebrate with one another – their friends and families and all the great heroes of the faith through Narnia’s history.
Tirian and the children were so discouraged because they didn’t know which story they were in. What time in Narnia’s history. They didn’t understand what they were really supposed to accomplish.
What if that’s where we are?
I’m not saying it is… I don’t know. But I realized that day in my conversation with my brother, that I had been putting my hope not in God, but in a particular outcome. My hope had not been in God, but in a specific answer to my prayers, a turn of events, a change in people’s hearts or behaviors. A change in circumstances. My hope was in my ability to make a difference – whether through my fasting and prayer or through my many more “hands-on” efforts.
When all along, my hope should have been in Him. Simply in Him. That He loves me and you and this big, messy world we’re living in, and that He has a plan. That He’s at work in all of this. And that He can be trusted, even when I don’t understand. Even when I can’t see His hand.
Ever since that day a few years ago, I’ve decided to live as though we’re in the Last Battle. And you know what? I’ve got my hope back!
Because the way I see it, my job is not to fast and pray and fight to return this country (or our world) to some sort of former glory – some “golden era,” but to fast and pray and fight to be found faithful. (It’s amazing how many battles you actually do win, when you focus on that!)
My job is to be a light in the darkness, a witness to the truth. To take my stand when and where He asks me to. To suffer when and where and however He asks me to. To give to and serve and support and strengthen whomever and wherever He asks. To rescue those I can – those who want to be rescued. And be merciful even to those who don’t. (Jude 20-23)
The beautiful thing is that if I’m wrong about which story I’m in… which part of history… if this isn’t the Last Battle, it wouldn’t really change my assignment. Or yours. That’s what it’s been all along.
It just helps me keep my hope where it belongs.
Virtual VBS Assignment:
Today is the first day of our free online summer Bible study, Virtual VBS for GrownUp Girls: Holding on to Hope… When Life Is Hard. If you’re participating, here are your instructions for this week:
Read: 1 Peter 1:3-2:12, 1 Peter 4:12-19, 1 Peter 5:8-11. (I’ve linked to them on BibleGateway if you don’t have a Bible handy.) You can read all the passages at once, read a few verses a day, or read them several times through the week and really meditate on the themes. I’ll have some journaling / discussion questions for you on Thursday. For tips on getting the most out of your Bible reading, see Five Simple Ways to Focus on the Words You Read
Memorize: Click to download our free Memory Verse Printables, which you can print out on cardstock or plain paper, tape to your mirror, computer or car dashboard. This week’s verse is 1 Timothy 4:10. It’s in the graphic above and also on our VBS Pinterest board.
If at any time during our study, you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests – or would just like to introduce yourself and say hello! – please do so in the discussion space below!