Second-hand emotions …

Have you ever been disappointed by something or someone?

If you’re human, you have been. We’ve all had things turn out badly or some way other than we wanted them to. Disappointments seem a way of life, sometimes. Occasionally,we go through spells that last so long that we think our entire life is one cosmic joke after another.

It hurts. When we hope for an outcome, for a resolution, and it never comes … it hurts. When we invest in a decision that blows up in our faces, the pain can be worse than a physical injury. The most commonly-mourned pain is love, but don’t think that disappointment is limited. Jobs, children, dreams, finances, health, friendships … there are many ways to be disappointed and hurt.

If this is such a common thing, then what do we do with it? There are innumerable self-help gurus who promise solutions to dealing with pain and loss. Every relative and friend has a lecture just waiting for a moment. And then there’s logic, which will line up the facts in your mind and dictate what you should do. Contrast that with the emotions, and what a cocktail you’ve got to sip on.

What irritates me the most about this lingering suffering is the way I keep doing it to myself. I keep hoping that this time, it will be different. I’ve changed up my approach, I’ve applied the logic and advice and am not making the same mistakes. So why do I keep getting hurt? Why do I keep hoping when I know darn well that there is no reason to hope? To be honest, I get mad at God for allowing me to hope. It’s like He promises things and then takes some kind of pleasure in denying them to me.

Let’s take a look at someone else who hoped for something futile. Abram was just a dude living in Ur some thousands of years ago. He was minding his own business when God took a proverbial baseball bat to his life. “Leave your cushy life, trek across the wilderness, go to someplace you’ve never heard of, and I’ll make you the ancestor of an entire nation.”

Anyone else feel less than confident with those instructions? A bit vague, if you ask me. Abram was 75 when this happened, and he had no kids. I realize that it is medically possible for a 75-year-old man to sire children, but a wife who is over 70 is not likely to be able to bear them for him. Well, maybe since they lived longer in those days, Sarai still had functional plumbing, but I’m not betting on it.

So Abram packs himself and all his household up and starts walking. And walking. Stops for a bit to let his dad die, and then walks some more. Seriously? More walking.

So he comes to Canaan, has adventures and stuff, and all along God is saying, “I’ll make you the founder of a nation. You will have descendants.” God even gives Abram a new name to commemorate the promise.

After five years, I would be seriously questioning God. Abraham had to wait twenty-five years before the promise became a reality. I seriously don’t think I have that much patience. I would have said “Peace out!” and ditched that Popsicle stand. Seriously, how did he stand it?

While children and legacies are important to us today, it’s nothing compared to how important they were back then. Abraham brought his servant, Eliezer of Damascus, along because he had no kids and Eliezer was in essence his heir-in-waiting . Many traditions from that era claimed that the only eternity a person could aspire to was blood descendants. Without children, you ceased to exist. I can understand why Abraham jumped at any promise regarding children.

Abraham didn’t wait patiently, which is a kind of relief to me. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who gets ideas on how to pick up God’s slack. Adoption is a legitimate way to have children, even in that day. And it soon became obvious that it wasn’t Abraham’s fault that his wife never got pregnant, since Hagar had no trouble. That was a mistake that we’re still feeling the fallout from. But events don’t end here, which is a very good thing.

So Abraham wasn’t perfect, and he wasn’t patient. He grumbled more than once to God. He took matters into his own hands from time to time. And at the end of each day, he still hung on to this crazy hope that he would one day have a legitimate child and legal descendants.

Dude, you’re old. Your wife is old. Get over it.

Right?

Wrong.

God had a plan, and it required that Abraham keep hoping when all hope was lost. Against all logic, against all advice, against all emotions, against all reason. To hope against hope, as the KJV puts in.

For all his detours and foibles, Abraham never stopped believing. He never really gave up hope. He always came back to God, always came back to His promise. And because he never turned away, God kept that promise, and we have some amazing stories to look back on and learn from.

The thing that so many of those gurus and advice-givers forget is that God is still active in our lives. In your life. In my life. Yes, it’s often hard. Yes, it rarely makes sense. But when your hope is in God, you will not be disappointed.

But how can you trust this, trust that God will come through when there are so many holes in your life? Well, for starters, read up about those whose faith got them through their miserable times. If they got through it, could not you, as well?

And hope when there is no hope. Remember that it is not about being perfect; it’s about perseverance. Are you willing to go the distance, to get back up again, no matter how many times you fall? God is ready to pick you up. Your story will not end in pain if you keep on keepin’ on.

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