Freedom from Misplaced Hope

In January, America was hit with tragic news: the death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and several others. I was never into basketball, and those who know me know that I have no athletic bone in me. However, this news hit me deeply, because it reminded me of a tragic event in my life.

On June 1, 2015, my dad passed away. With the news of Kobe’s death, I was reminded of what had happened in my own life. I spent countless nights looking through old photos, crying out in deep pain, and days looking through my dad’s personal belongings. I spent many nights watching all the videos on my phone, wishing I had more of my dad. I also spent countless nights in prayer and months in professional counseling due to the trauma and pain it gave me. All the hidden pain I thought was unpacked was brought to light with the news of Kobe’s passing; I realized that I didn’t know how to unpack my pain. I felt hopeless and lost in my grief.

The dreams I’d had as a little girl of walking down the aisle at my wedding with my father will never happen. All the dreams of him witnessing the milestones in my life, such as becoming a missionary, will never happen. I realized during counseling that when my dad passed my “protector” had been stripped from me.

I spent 19 years with my dad, and within the blink of an eye my life changed completely.

I spent three days wrestling with God. I had started to feel set free from my grief. Now I found myself asking God to give me reasons to keep moving forward. Although it had been four-and-a-half years since my dad had passed, I felt like I was back to square one . Then in my devotions one day, I read 2 Samuel 7:12–13.

When your days are filled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

Israel put its hope in a ruler who would come through the line of David, one who would liberate them, set them free from all their oppression. They were looking forward to this promise being fulfilled.

In Matthew 22:4–46, Jesus has a conversation with the Pharisees that reveals His identity and their misplaced hope. The Pharisees wanted the kingdom that was to come and not the King himself. They’d been looking forward to the promise of this ruler, this son from the line of David who would set them free from all their oppression, but they’d forgotten about the King himself.

They were trusting in the promise of God over God Himself. They were looking forward to liberty and freedom from their pain and oppression, rather than looking forward to Christ. They wanted the liberation, but not the liberator.

In my moments of feeling hopeless, I realized that I, too, had placed my hope in the promises of God over God Himself. I’d rejoiced that I would one day get to see my earthly father, which is a very good thing, but being reunited with my heavenly Father had become secondary. I wanted the liberation from this grief and pain, but not the liberator. My earthly father became the end prize of my race; I’d forgotten about the real prize, which is Christ.

Do not forget about Christ Himself. Love the Promise Keeper more than His promises. Love the one who sets you free more than the freedom.

This month marks five years and one month since my dad passed. Although I still may grieve, I no longer grieve hopelessly. I’ve been learning to trust in God. He may have given me my earthly father for 19 years to mirror Him as my protector and father, but God will always be my protector. My hope is now in someone who is everlasting and gives comfort in all seasons.

Reclaim Your Joy

The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity (see 2 Corinthians 10:3b–6, MSG).

Loss, anger, grief, protest, and heaviness abound around us. Between loss of life, fear of illness, anger at surrendered freedoms, and multiple stories of racial injustice, I am tired. Aren’t you? Social media has been a breeding ground for all of these thoughts and feelings as everyone vehemently shares their opinions. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a break from it all?

Everything screaming at us right now is loudly going against the truth of God for our lives. We can choose loss, or we can believe God has a plan. We can choose fear, or we can trust God is sovereign and all knowing. We can feel trapped, or we can remember our ultimate freedom is in Christ. But how? When the world is so loud, how do we choose stillness? How do we know that He is God in our midst?

Well, the good news is that God is who He says He is, regardless of our emotions or awareness. Sometimes we forget, but we’ve got “powerful God-tools” in our tool belt to combat these feelings; we need to wield them.

To wield means to hold and use a weapon or tool. Two parts: hold and use.

What do we need to hold? My friends, it’s quite simple. We must hold the Word of God in high esteem as the ultimate authority—as the forever-and-always truth for us, our lives, and creation. We need to take it in so that we may hold every thought and emotion accountable to its revealed truth. God’s Word is our lie detector and our truth compass. We need it.

What do we need to use? Our well-trained muscles! We need to lift the shield of faith and use the truth to extinguish the flaming darts of the enemy. With God’s help, we can defend our peace and joy. We can be truth tellers and, ultimately, lie dismantlers.

What lies are you believing? What negative feelings and emotions are you allowing to stick to you? Throw them off, dear one! Tell them no. Lift your shield of faith. Proclaim the truth. Reclaim your joy today.