As the Hope Shack project begins to come to life, and I write this first post, I have to consider what message we want to convey to you, the reader. I think it’s simply that YOU matter. That you are not alone, regardless of how alone you might feel. We have all messed up. We have all made bad choices. Our friends and family may have let us down. Maybe we let ourselves down. We all have a story. It may be a crisis we’re facing right now. It may be a past we’d rather forget. It may be a loss we can’t replace. Sometimes it seems like there isn’t anyone around that could possibly understand what we are going through, or what we have been through. Everyone else looks so good and so well put together. Sometimes the crisis we are facing is so big, that it seems like even our friends couldn’t have anything in common with us anymore. What kind of stuff am I talking about? I’m talking about the big things, like losing a child, major illness, divorce, abuse, or losing a job. Those things are big and scary and all-encompassing. They throw us into a tailspin that can last for weeks, months, and sadly, even years. I know. I’ve ridden those tailspins. Then there’s the regrets of bad choices that usually follow. Did we squander away our living expenses? Did we hurt someone? Did we turn the wrong way looking for comfort? Did we really blow it somehow?
It was several years ago, after an unfaithful spouse had abandoned our marriage, that I found myself in one of those tailspins. I was looking for ways to make the hurting stop. Here’s what I found; I couldn’t drink away the pain. Rapid-fire relationships couldn’t make me forget. Hurting someone back didn’t feel as good as I thought it would. So where does that leave us when the unthinkable happens? What choices do we have? I know of but one: We can look up. One night I looked up long enough to see the mess around me, and thought, “This isn’t who I am.” It was at that moment, with that thought, that Jesus met me there. It may sound crazy, but that’s how it happened. It wasn’t my strength that helped me to stand up. It wasn’t my strength that walked me out of there. It was His.
Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 13:2) When we are weak, He is strong. Powerfully strong. We can ask for that strength, lean into it, when we don’t think we can change things ourselves. What’s that business about ‘grace being sufficient’? I didn’t have it all together. I was angry, hurt, and full of resentment. I was supposed to be a Christian, and I had really messed up. My dreams were shattered. I didn’t deserve His help. Guilt and shame now compounded the hurt and loss that I already felt. Hope? Nope. I was all out of that. Yet, he met me there anyway, the instant that I looked up. That’s the grace He’s talking about. Grace sufficient enough to forgive me, grace enough to forgive all of us.
It takes more than courage and strength to stand up and walk out of our circumstances when our legs don’t want to work. I assure you, we can’t do it alone. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 What does that even mean? It means that if your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there, ready to respond when you call His name. If you’ve been kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath. No, we won’t always have the strength to get up by ourselves. We may not have anyone we know left to call on, but we still don’t have to go the distance alone.
As I look back today, I’m thankful that Jesus isn’t afraid to step into the trenches to pull us up out of there. I’m thankful that He loves us enough to pursue us with passion when we fall apart. In fact, God promises us that no matter how badly we’ve messed up or how badly we’ve been treated, that He will still fight for us. “The Lord redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in Him.” (Psalm 34:22)
That promise is for you. Just look up.