With New Year’s just around the corner, I’m getting my 2018 New Year’s Resolutions ready. Resolutions can be hard because, though some things you very much have control over (like committing to working out 3 times a week or planning a trip to Europe), there are so many things, perhaps the things we really want, where we have little to no control—getting that dream job, meeting the right guy or girl, becoming pregnant after several unsuccessful attempts… the list can sometimes seem endless.
In some regards, those deep desires seem to fall to the fate of sheer luck—maybe this will be the year! But who really knows? That’s what I thought last year and look, here I am in the same spot. We almost become embarrassed to admit how badly we want these things, because what if we don’t get them? Or worse, what if our desire for them is selfish and not God’s will for us? Therefore, we don’t really admit what we want. We shrug our shoulders nonchalantly when people ask us about the said desire, and we convince ourselves that, perhaps if we don’t admit our desire aloud, or even interiorly to ourselves, it won’t hurt so bad if our worst fears are confirmed and it never comes to fruition.
God Doesn’t Play Games
This is a problem for several reasons. First, the reality is that we do want these deep desires, and though admitting that to ourselves is scary and vulnerable, it is a necessary first step. I know in my own life, I often feel guilty for wanting these things—why can’t I just be happy with what God has already blessed me with? I feel that I jinx myself the second I ask for something or am honest with God and myself about how badly I want it. How many stories do we hear where someone ‘wasn’t even looking for it’ and whatever ‘it’ was came to be? Well, guess what? That’s not the norm! It’s the human condition to feel the deep ache and longing for these greater things, and that ache doesn’t go away if we live in a facade that we’re indifferent to the outcome.
God doesn’t play games. He doesn’t jinx us and withhold his gifts because we want them. In fact, he wants to give us good things! Our God is a good God, and we have a right to hope for things that are in his plan for us with the surety that, albeit the details likely looking a bit different than we would have imagined, he will give them to us.
A second problem is that, in failing to come to terms with our own desires within ourselves, we necessarily fail to do so with others. If I can’t admit to myself how badly I want that job, I’m definitely not going to admit that to anyone else! In doing so, I isolate myself. When the thing I was hoping for doesn’t work out or is yet again prolonged, no one can acknowledge my suffering, because I haven’t shared it with them. Seeing another negative pregnancy test is a much easier pill to swallow if I know I can call my dear friend vs. sit on the bathroom floor by myself in pain until I’m able to pull together a good face. We are relational human beings and we have a real and deep need for one another, especially through the difficult moments and inevitable disappointments of life.
Courage to Hope
This year, have the courage to hope. Hope for those deep desires. Admit them to God, yourself, and others. Does it guarantee a perfect and timely outcome? By no means. But hope does promise to give us the strength to persevere in the midst of hard experiences. One of my favorite biblical examples of hope comes from Elizabeth and Zechariah. Though both were “righteous in the eyes of God…they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years” (Luke 1: 6-7). That situation sounds pretty bleak to me! I’m sure that their plan looked so different than God’s, but by persevering in hope, God responded to their desire for a child. In fact, their desire was the essence of their hope. “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard” (Luke 1:13).
May your hope this year stem from those encouraging words: your prayer has been heard. Let that give you the confidence to admit, share, trust, and hope for these good things. Have faith that God hears your prayers and will grant the desires of your heart. The longer you are asked to persevere in this hope does not equate to a lesser chance of your desire be granted, but rather trust that you are moving closer to God’s promise of fulfilling it, perhaps in a surprising way.