Choosing Hope in the Midst of Difficulty
by LESLIE LUDY
Agony. There is no better word to describe what I was feeling as I sat silently on our living room couch, inwardly paralyzed by a deep soul-ache that I’d never known before. We were in the midst of our third adoption, walking through the process of bringing two children home from Haiti. What had started out as an exciting, hope-filled journey had somehow turned into a
But most of all, I felt confused.
How could God let this happen? Hadn’t we responded in obedience by saying yes to a need that was placed in front of us? Hadn’t we made tremendous financial sacrifices in order to move the adoption forward? Hadn’t our motives been pure and unselfish?
So where was the happily-ever-after adoption story we had hoped and prayed for? Why weren’t we seeing evidence of God’s faithfulness the way we had in the past?
As the weeks went by and the adoption nightmare continued, I began to cry out to God for perspective. Again and
And I began to realize that the story wasn’t over yet. Gradually, I gained the quiet assurance that God would create beauty out of these ashes. I recalled the story of Joseph, who trusted God even when it seemed he had been forsaken, and how God turned all that was meant for evil against him to good. (See Genesis 50:20.) And I knew that somehow God would take my anguish, confusion, and heartache and turn them into strength and
And that is what He did.
After 29 long months of overwhelming struggle and heartache, my tears of sorrow finally turned into tears of joy the moment that our two Haitian toddlers stepped off the plane in Denver and ran into my arms.
It wasn’t a fairytale story. But it was a story of God’s perfect faithfulness.
There has been tremendous pain associated with our adoption of Rees and Lily. But there has also been tremendous reward. I often think of the amazing blessings I would have missed if I had given up and walked away before His purposes were accomplished. The blessing of two little ones to love and care for. The blessing of our family witnessing answered prayer. The blessing of feeling His everlasting arms underneath me, even in my darkest hour. And even the blessing of the “refiner’s fire” that God has taken us through as we have chosen to stand in the gap for these two children who are precious in His sight.
God gives beauty for ashes. He turns our mourning into dancing. He fulfills His purpose for us. That is who our God is.
But how easy it is to give up hope before the story is over.
Maybe you’ve experienced crushing disappointment. Maybe your dreams of “happily ever after” have come crashing to the ground. Maybe you’ve been deeply wounded by someone you trusted. Maybe you’ve walked through incredible grief and loss.
If so, I want to ask you a question.
Have you laid those ashes of sorrow at the feet of your Lord, expectantly waiting for Him to give you beauty in return? Are you standing firmly upon the promise that God will work all things together for your good (not just the good things, but also the hard things) as you put your hope in Him? Do you believe the promise of Isaiah 40:31 that says, “Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength”?
Or have you allowed bitterness, cynicism, and doubt to cloud your soul? Have you been tempted to pull away from God and blame Him for your pain? Have you rejected things that are pure and lovely because of your own frustration and despair? Are you allowing doubt and self-pity to push aside faith and hope?
The way we answer these questions is a matter of spiritual life or death.
When John the Baptist was in prison awaiting execution, He sent word to Jesus asking whether He was really the Messiah. Why would John ask such a question? He had already proclaimed Jesus to be the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” He had already witnessed the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus like a dove. And he had already heard the voice of the Father say, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (See John 1:29 and Matthew 3:17.) Were John’s circumstances causing him to question what he once firmly believed?
Jesus sent a message back to John: “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (Lk. 7:23).
To be “offended” in this verse means: to trip or stumble, to become offended or indignant. When disappointment or heartache comes our way, it is all too easy to trip over our difficult circumstances and take up an offense against our Lord.
But, as Jesus told John, how blessed are those whom God can trust with pain; those who do not become offended toward Him when difficulties come. They are the ones who receive His beauty for ashes.
The beauty may not be evident right away. But when we trust our God with the ashes of our hurt or pain or regret, we can be sure that His redemptive power is already at work in our lives.
Corrie ten Boom often quoted “The Tapestry” poem:
My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.
Let us never forget that our God makes all things beautiful in His time. (See Ecclesiastes 3:11.) He weaves together both the dark and light threads of our lives to create a beautiful
So by His grace may we take the very hardest thing in our lives, the place of difficulty, outward or inward, and expect God to triumph gloriously in that very spot.