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The One Year Book of Hope
A year-long daily devotional written especially for those who are hurting or grieving.
Processing pain and embracing its lessons is a daily endeavor. Every day we need a little more light to illumine our darkness. That’s what I want the One Year Book of Hope to be for you—a daily dose of truth and comfort.
Daily is a good thing. Just as you can’t eat enough food in one meal to last all week, you need a spiritual meal each day if you want to walk through each day in a transforming awareness of God. This book is designed to feed your hurting soul a little bit every day, and it will give you something to chew on throughout each day. I’ve picked fifty-two themes—one for each week of the coming year—that have been especially meaningful to me in my grief and questions.
Weekly themes include: The Love of God, The Sovereignty of God, Miracles, Looking to the Cross, Heaven: Longing for Home, School of Suffering, Joy, People, Letting Go. There are devotions for each day of the week, Monday through Friday, and a guide for reflection, meditation, and prayer for the weekend.
Q&A with Nancy Guthrie
Author of The One Year© Book of Hope
For many people, the worst thing they can imagine happening to them is to lose a child. Nancy Guthrie has known that loss, not once, but twice, burying a daughter, Hope, and a son, Gabriel, who each lived only six months due to a rare and cruel metabolic disorder called Zellweger Syndrome. So Nancy knows what it is like to yearn for hope when life seems dark and difficult. Her own search for understanding and meaning in the scripture is reflected in the year's worth of daily devotions she has written for others who are hurting in The One Year© Book of Hope.
Q. What have you learned from your own experience of grief that influenced what you have written for others who are hurting in The One Year© Book of Hope?
A. I suppose my own sorrow opened my eyes to the sorrow of others. Before I had Hope I was blissfully unaware or perhaps just conveniently naïve about the hurts of others—the on-going pain that many people live with day in and day out—and I liked it that way. But having walked through deep grief myself, I now understand what it is like to feel hopeless in the midst of loss, desperate for relief, and searching for meaning. I know what it is like to wonder if life will ever be good again, if you'll ever have joy again.
Q. How have you found healing for the hurt you've experienced?
A. The secret for me has been to take my most significant questions about who God is and how he works to the scripture in a quest for understanding and a search for intimacy. As my understanding of God and my experience of God has grown and expanded through suffering, I've come to see my suffering as a blessing, as an opportunity to become more God-dependent and God-aware, and less self-sufficient and self-absorbed.
Q. Who did you have in mind as you wrote the daily devotionals for The One Year© Book of Hope?
A. I thought of various friends or people I've interacted with—those stinging from divorce, grieving the death of a loved one, struggling with a difficult diagnosis or health issue, or coping with a prodigal child, as well as those whose difficulty might not be what they would describe as "big" but is none-the-less very real and painful to them. And the truth is, all of us deal with some form of suffering at some point in our lives that we have to make sense of and submit to.
I suppose more than anything The One Year© Book of Hope is a daily call to deeper discipleship, an invitation to walk with God in a closer and more committed way. Some of my friends who read the book and gave me input as I was writing it told me that they didn't feel like they had to be suffering in a significant way to feel like the book was for them. It is for anyone who wants to go beyond superficial consumer Christianity to knowing and walking with God in a rich and rewarding but perhaps costly way. I hope that as they work through the book week by week, they will discover that Jesus is worth whatever following him and trusting him may cost them. He's that good, that reliable.
Q. The One Year© Book of Hope is prefaced with a quote from C. S. Lewis' Mere Christianity that reads, "Comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth—only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair." Why did you preface the book this way?
A. Because I think much of what is offered to hurting people in an effort to bring comfort doesn't, because it is not rooted in truth or is just half-truth. Often what is offered is more sentimental than scriptural. Or oftentimes the scriptures offered to hurting people are what I call, "pat-you-on-the-head-passages" that sound good and seem to offer hope, but it is hope that is more about getting what you want from God than about getting more of God, more about getting his cooperation to work out your plans than about conforming to his plans.
Q. What do you mean?
A. Many scriptures that are commonly shared with those who are hurting seem to tell people only what they want to hear—that God is going to make everything okay and that he will come through for them in the way they want him to. And then when he doesn't, they're really disappointed with God and tempted to walk away from faith. So rather than going to scripture with the aim of plucking out what sounds good to us, we need to come to scripture with an aim of seeking to meet God in it, to discover him for who he really is, and to grow in our understanding of what he is doing in the world. In the daily devotions for The One Year© Book of Hope, I've come to the scripture with the questions I have struggled with in the wake of my loss in my own search for truth to dispel the darkness. And on the surface, the truth I've discovered is not always what I was hoping to hear, but as I dig deeper I discover it is what I need most.
Q. Can you give us an example?
A. An example would be whether or not I can expect God to protect me. Many verses suggest that God protects those he loves, but I also see in the scripture that God did not always protect those he loved from hardship, persecution, or even death. So one week the book explores exactly what God has promised in regard to protecting us. On the surface what we discover may not be what we are looking for, but we find that in reality the protection God offers is much deeper and more pervasive than we once thought.
Another example would be miracles and healing. When we read, "Ask anything in my name and I will do it," or read the stories of miraculous healings in the gospels, we develop a picture, and even an urgent expectation, that God will respond to our faith with the physical healing we desire. But many of us have experienced the reality that God does not always heal our bodies. So pursuing the truth, and pursuing God in the midst of that truth is transforming. We discover that our spiritual health is more important to God than our physical health, and on the surface that may be disappointing to us because our value system just doesn't line up with God's value system. But our bodies are going to die, and our spirits are going to live forever.
Q. What do these things have to do with hope?
A. Hope is a very misunderstood word in our modern language and culture. Most of the time we use "hope" to describe our wishful thinking. We're hoping something will happen but we have no confidence that it will. But when the Bible talks about hope, it is speaking of something that is sure, but not yet a reality that we can see. And while hope impacts how we live in the here and now and infuses even our suffering with meaning, real hope involves a view to eternity—a God-secured, God-infused, God-glorifying eternal future. Our confident expectation of this hope-filled future is based solely on the word of God and his promises to us. That is why genuine hope is found only by searching the scriptures.
Q. What is the biggest mistake people who are hurting or grieving make that keeps them from embracing hope and life?
A. We look for comfort in many other places and in many other people rather than in God alone when all the while he is inviting us, "Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest." We reach for the telephone or the TV remote or the bottle or the refrigerator to soothe the hurts in our lives rather than learning how to come to God alone for the comfort we crave. The sad truth is that when we read God's promise that he will walk with us in the valley, we're a little disappointed. We want more than that because we don't really believe the presence of God with us in the midst of sorrow or difficulty will be all that great. We want what God can give us more than we want God himself. I hope that readers of The One Year© Book of Hope will come to value the gift of God's very presence in their pain.
Q. In what ways is grief different for a person of faith than it is for the person with no faith?
A. Well in many ways it is the same. Pain and loss doesn't hurt less for the believer, though we might think it should. Faith does not inoculate us from pain. But genuine faith does infuse us with hope. It fills us with confidence in God's goodness, God's love, and God's sovereignty and it plants our fondest hopes in the soil of heaven, not this earth. Genuine faith helps us to stop expecting so much from this world and this life and comforts us with the confidence that heaven will not disappoint us like life does.
In the lowest days of her grief following the death of her daughter, Nancy Guthrie made a list—a list of things she would write about if she were to ever write a devotional for people who are hurting. Many items on the list were questions she had not found answers to, scriptural passages that seemed unintelligible, phrases that held meaning or offered comfort. At the time, she wished she had something to read from every day that would confront her deep pain with truth from scripture, and thinking that maybe she would write such a book herself one day, she filed the list away and nearly forgot about it.
But she remembered the list when Tyndale House approached her four years later about writing a daily devotional, and it became the foundation for The One Year© Book of Hope, which releases in October 2005. Writing not only for those who suffer deep physical, emotional, and relational pain but also for those who simply want to see the lesser hurts of their lives redeemed, Guthrie speaks with an authenticity and credibility with which only one who has hurt deeply can speak. While she writes of her own experience of losing a daughter, Hope, and a son, Gabriel, to a rare metabolic disorder, Guthrie tells readers, "while my story takes up much of the ink in this book, it is your story that has prompted me to write, your loss that is heavy on my heart."
Guthrie developed 52 weekly themes to take readers through over the course of a year, moving from first-aid for the hurting in early weeks such as "Brokenhearted," "Holy Spirit, Comforter," and "Why?" to foundational truths in weeks such as "Parables", "Paradox" and "Joy," and finally into significant challenge in weeks such as "Submission," "Forgiveness," and "Letting Go." Each week includes devotions for Monday through Friday, and a guide for reflection, meditation, and prayer for the weekend.
Comfort and Truth
It was a quote from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis that not only confirmed her decision to write the book but gave Guthrie guidance along the way: "Comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth—only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair."
"So much of what I had read for hurting people is what I call 'pat you on the head' use of selected scriptures or simply psychotherapy", says Guthrie. "I knew that the only thing that has helped me emerge from the pain I've experienced with real joy and renewed faith has been confronting my very real questions and pain at every turn with the truth of God's Word. Scripture does speak to the significant pain of living in this broken world and offers genuine hope. It has been my goal to give hurting people a nugget of truth to chew on throughout the day, everyday."
A Flexible Format
Guthrie chose not to use dates or days of the week in the year-long devotional so that readers can begin the book at any time of the year and can feel the flexibility of sitting down with the book once a week to work through a week's devotions on a particular theme, or using it daily. But Guthrie hopes readers will use the book to develop a daily habit. "Every day we need a little more light to illumine our darkness," she writes. "We need a fresh touch, a fresh word to nourish and sustain us. Yesterday's manna, yesterday's insights may inform us, but every day we need something new to keep us moving forward toward healing."
People who are experiencing terrible grief don't want to hear platitudes from someone who has never walked in their shoes. What sets Guthrie's consolation literature apart is that she has clearly been through hell and still manages to find joy. Readers may remember her story, recounted in Time magazine and in her own book, Holding on to Hope. Two of her three children were born with a deadly rare disease called Zellweger Syndrome, and lived only about six months each. Processing pain, she explains, is an ongoing daily endeavor, so she created 52 weeks' worth of daily devotions, organized around themes like brokenheartedness, faith, and questioning God. Guthrie never runs from hard questions, from the section on heaven (what are our loved ones doing up there? What will our bodies be like?) to a week on finding purpose in pain. (Here, Guthrie discusses how she has used her own experiences to minister to hurting people, and encourages others to do the same as they feel ready.) Where other devotionals offer tiny and undemanding snippets from Scripture, Guthrie's approach is meatier, and we see her genuinely wrestling with some of the more difficult passages of the Bible. Throughout, Guthrie's soul-searching honesty and personal anecdotes make her a perfect companion in times of deep sorrow. (Oct.)
September 14, 2005
There is a balm for the sorrowful heart, and, not surprisingly, it comes through the heart of one who has suffered pain herself. The only thing that really helped when this author lost two babies to Zellweger Syndrome was the Word of God-daily. Manna she calls it. And daily manna from God’s own Word is what she offers others through this sensitive and truly comforting book of daily devotions. Wise enough to realize she couldn’t expect readers to ingest a year’s worth of her pain, she has acknowledged, but reached past it, keeping the reader’s pain at the forefront of her mind as she wrote. Yet her own experience with suffering energizes, sensitizes, and deepens her love offering.
Using fifty-two themes as a framework gives this book a weekly, as well as a daily, rhythm. Under each weekly theme, there are devotions for each day-Monday through Friday-and also a guide for reflection, meditation, and prayer for the weekend. The focus is the Word. "My words have nourishing power only as far as they capture and convey the truth of God’s Word." People going through minor, as well as major, loss and pain can benefit from this gentle, comforting book.
Dallas Morning News
Sometimes it seems as if pain and loss stalk us, waiting until we're not looking to fell us with a one-two punch to the heart.
Nancy Guthrie knows what it's like to feel that knife blade of grief, the kind of pain that is all-consuming, that leads us to rail against God and all the injustice it seems he lets slip by.
But it is that experience – the deaths of two babies from a rare metabolic disorder – that brings her closer to God and gives her the strength to use her loss for others' gain. This book of yearlong devotions is her heartfelt attempt to help others find hope amid suffering.
The daily devotions are meant to draw the reader closer to God and the comfort he offers. Ms. Guthrie includes Scripture with each passage to help readers dip deeper into God's word and find meaning in the loss. She provides a weekly summary with questions and meditations and prayers to help the reader find peace.
Although the book is geared toward those who have suffered great loss, it would be helpful for those struggling through a crisis of any sort. Its wisdom and clearly thought-out advice would be a good way for anyone to start out the new year.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Select Quotes from
The One Year Book of Hope
About Truth . . .
I resent it when someone seems to pat me on the head with a Bible verse in a way that devalues my genuine hurt and dismisses my deep questions. But I'm talking about confronting our very real fears, feelings, and thoughts with scriptural truth. I'm talking about digging deep in God's Word to figure out who he is and what his purposes are in the world and in our lives. Truth soothes our fears, changes our feelings, and shapes our thoughts. The truth is what we need most when the hurt is the deepest.
About the Man of Sorrows . . .
What I have needed to see is the sorrow of Jesus. Because in seeing his sorrow, I find comfort and companionship. I find guidance for dealing with my own sorrow and acceptance of my tears. Perhaps the greatest comfort I find in seeing Jesus as a man of sorrows is the affirmation that tears do not reflect a lack of faith; indeed, they are a companion to authentic faith.
About the prayers of the Holy Spirit . . .
When we are weak-willed and weak-minded, when distress has consumed our energy and emotions, the Holy Spirit helps us. His prayers are not passionless or impersonal; he prays for us with deep groanings that reflect his understanding and identification with our need. He prays for us with deep devotion and perfect articulation when we have no words—only tears and questions. When we wonder if heaven hears our cries, the Holy Spirit is pleading on our behalf in a language heaven hears, and understands and responds to.
About our search for love . . .
Can we ever expect to experience love that will never disappoint, never fade, and never leave? If a human kiss and the rush of romance is the highest and most satisfying love we can ever expect to know, we are indeed doomed to disappointment, because no human can ever love us fully, completely, faithfully. How many times must our hearts be broken to learn that lesson? Our brokenheartedness keeps us looking for a grander, surer love. But instead of continuing to look around, we must look up. There we see Jesus, the greatest lover in the universe.
About questioning the love of God . . .
We tend to interpret God's love by looking at our circumstances. Things-are-good means God loves me. Things-are-bad means God doesn't care. Instead, we must allow the strong and secure love of God to become the lens through which we interpret everything that happens in our lives. When we see our suffering through the lens of God's love, we see that our suffering has meaning and purpose. And while we may never label the suffering as good, we have the consoling confidence that God is going to use it for our good and for his glory.
About the sovereignty of God . . .
When something bad happens, the sovereignty of God is a very hard truth to accept, because if he is in control of everything, we wonder why he has allowed this universe to be ordered in a way that causes us pain. But when we begin to think that "the God I know would never allow this," we have taken our first step toward discovering that God is not who we think he is. That is when we can begin to explore the wonder of his sovereignty. Though God's sovereignty can be hard to accept, it is also a soft place to land. It is a rock underfoot when the winds blow in our lives. It confronts what seems absurd in our existence. God's sovereignty is our greatest hope as we face an uncertain and unknown future.
About our expectation of protection . . .
God is much more interested in the life of our souls than the life of our bodies. Your body is going to die. Your soul is going to live forever. God cares more about your spiritual health than your physical health. And his ability to protect your soul from eternal judgment and eternal death is more significant than his ability to protect your body from disease or attack or death. It doesn't always seem more significant to you and me, but it is. Trapped in these bodies and in this time, it is so hard for us to imagine our eternal future with him. And in our desperation amid difficulties, we try to apply his promises of protection for our souls to our bodies, and we're left disappointed. We will continue to be disappointed until our value system lines up with God's, until we value the eternal life of our souls more than the limited life of our bodies.
About miracles . . .
I began to see that while the miracles Jesus performed revealed his love and compassion for hurting people, the greater purpose of each miracle was to show us a picture of a deeper spiritual reality, a greater and more significant spiritual power. And our need for spiritual healing is more significant than our need for physical healing; we just don't realize it.
About faith . . .
Rather than giving the disciples a formula for increasing their faith, Jesus told them that it isn't the amount of faith that matters, but the object of faith. In fact, the only thing that matters about your faith is its object. If the object of your faith is your ability to work up enough to impress God, your faith will be as weak as your flesh. If the object of your faith is a particular outcome for your situation, your faith will be as weak as your wisdom. But if the source and object of your faith is Almighty God, even if it is the weak, mustard-seed variety, your faith will be enough for whatever God allows into your life.
About God's goodness . . .
Sometimes our circumstances seem like anything but evidence of God's goodness. But that is because we tend to define God by what we have deemed as good. We have to turn that around. We have to learn to define goodness by who God is and what he does. God is eternally, intrinsically, abundantly, infinitely, perfectly good. God himself is the standard by which we should compare anything we want to label as "good." He is the source from which everything that is truly good emanates. God alone is absolutely good.
About getting what we deserve . . .
On the surface, a perfectly fair world appeals to us. But in a perfectly fair world there is no room for grace—receiving what you don't deserve. Neither is there room for mercy—being spared from receiving the punishment you do deserve. Suffering may be undeserved, but so is our redemption. To live in a world where we do not always get what we deserve, and one in which we sometimes get what we don't deserve, means that we will suffer loss, but it also means we will receive mercy.
About accepting what doesn't make sense . . .
There's only one thing that enables me to accept what I cannot understand about my suffering and the suffering of this world: the Cross. I look at the Cross and the enormous suffering it represents, and I am humbled and ashamed that I think I could know better than God what is good and right and purposeful. I see that there is a larger plan at work that my heart and my mind can barely comprehend. But mostly I see that the Cross is the ultimate example of God's ability to work all things together for good—even the most wicked deed darkness ever conceived. And if God can work together the cruel death and enormous suffering of his Son on the cross to bring about the greatest good of all time, then perhaps he really can do something good in and through the suffering in our lives too.
About our search for satisfaction . . .
Our hunger not only for food, but for sexual satisfaction, for significance and meaning, for adventure and rest all are God-given. He is not surprised when we try to satisfy these desires; neither is he disappointed when we discover that we are never satisfied. We feast and hunger again. We love and are rejected. We excel and someone surpasses our achievement. We experience the ultimate adventure only to become bored of our pursuit. Discovering that we cannot satisfy our longings in the here and now forces us to reckon with the fact that we will never be satisfied in this life. Our disappointment draws us to look forward to heaven where every hunger will be satisfied, every need will be met—fully and forever.
About contentment . . .
Paul said he had "learned" to be content. How did he learn contentment? By being inconvenienced, impoverished, encroached upon, unfed. He determined to find his contentment in God regardless of his circumstances. To be content doesn't mean that you don't care what happens, that you are indifferent to your surroundings or your suffering. To be content means that you are at peace in the sufficiency of Christ regardless. We think we'll be content when we finally get what we want, but real contentment is when we accept less than or something other than what we want.
About serving when we need to be served . . .
Jesus knows that our greatest happiness comes from serving others in his shadow, even when we need to be served ourselves. He knows we will experience a breakthrough of joy by listening to others when we want to be listened to, by giving to others while our needs go unmet, by caring for others when we want to be cared for. Does it seem unfair that Jesus would ask you to extend compassionate care to others just when you need it yourself? Jesus has walked this way before you.
About joy and sorrow . . .
To experience sorrow does not eliminate joy. In fact, I've come to think that sorrow actually deepens our capacity for joy—that as our lows are lower, so are our highs higher. Deep sorrow expands our ability to feel deeply. We feel sadder than we ever knew we could, sadder than we think we can survive. But our sorrow prepares us to experience a more satisfying and solid joy than we've ever known before. When joy surfaces, it allows us to see that deep beneath the chaos and catastrophe is the strong current of confidence that we can be content in the sovereign hands of God.
About the purpose of pain . . .
God uses the physical pain that does not subside, the relational pain that puts us on edge, the emotional pain that brings us to tears, to get our attention and to turn our attention toward him. When pain invades the busyness of our routine existence, it insists that we reexamine our assumptions and reevaluate our appetites and affections, doesn't it? Pain often affords us—or imposes on us—time for reflection. If we will accept it, pain can give us the gift of reconnection with God, a fresh intimacy with him, a passionate nearness to him. Pain brings us to our knees. We begin with prayers for our pain to be removed. And as he works in us, our prayers change so that we begin to ask that the pain will be redeemed.
About the painful things people say . . .
David and I have a theory. We've decided that when people hear about the difficulty in your life, their brain, like a computer, goes on a search, looking for a connection. Because they don't know what else to say and in an effort to fill up the awkward silence, people tend to say the first thing that comes up as a connection. "I knew a family who had this happen . . ." Sometimes it feels like a subtle effort to diminish our suffering, as if because the same or worse has happened to someone else in the world, it shouldn't hurt us quite so much. I'm not sure why, but people have this tendency to want to compare pain. This is harder than that; that would be worse than this. But you can't really compare pain. It all just hurts.
People are so quick to tell stories about other people who have faced similar losses. It makes them feel better to suggest a solution, a book, an expert, but it doesn't always make us feel better, does it? People are hoping to be helpful, trying to let us know that they can relate. If we put ourselves in their shoes, we realize that it is really hard to know what to say to someone who is suffering, isn't it? So we can be prickly and sensitive about the things people say to us that we wish they hadn't. Or we can choose to see their brains at work searching for a connection, their hearts wanting to show us they care even though they simply don't have the words to express it well.
About the lure of self-pity . . .
There have been plenty of days when I have wanted to do nothing more than indulge in an enormous pity party, feeling that I've earned it. And there's no question that self-pity feels good . . . for a while. At first it feels warm and comforting, but it quickly becomes cold and corrosive. It's like a little monster from a Saturday afternoon movie—if you feed it at all, it becomes bigger and bigger until it overpowers you. In reality, the self-pity we think will salve our wounds only serves to keep opening them.
About self-ministry instead of self-medication . . .
The pull toward self-medication rather than self-ministry is strong when we are tempted, discouraged, angry, guilty, or sad, and most of us have never learned how to minister to ourselves. In our pain we turn too quickly to the telephone or the bottle or some other quick but ineffective fix. So we must learn how to minister to ourselves. When we sense our spirits beginning to sink, when the pulse of pain awakens a desire that demands to be placated, we need to reject any and all lesser comforts than Christ alone.
About our anger toward God . . .
When we face a devastating loss, fellow believers sometimes encourage us to express our anger freely toward God, assuring us that God understands and accepts our honest emotions. It is a natural response to be angry when you don't get your way, when something or someone you love is taken away. And God is the easy target for that anger. Because our understanding of his sovereignty is shallow, we reason that if God is in charge of everything, then our suffering must be his fault, and thereby we see our anger as justified.
But wait a minute. Why do we think we have a right to be angry with our Creator? Who do we think we are to suggest that God owes us an explanation? What arrogance for us as finite, sinful, creatures to disapprove of what God does. The fear of God holds our tongue when we want to accuse God of wrongdoing; it halts our defiant finger-wagging; it humbles us in the midst of our self-righteous anger.
About wrestling with God . . .
Many people talk about wrestling with God when really I think they're talking about rebelling against God. We don't wrestle with God to force him to explain himself or to prove the power of our argument. Wrestling with God is not about pinning God down. It's about experiencing his power and enjoying his presence. Redemptive wrestling with God is when we can't bear to think about living without his blessing in our lives, when we value his blessing so much it is worth fighting for.
About praising God through tears . . .
Some days we praise God not with exuberance, but through tears. Some days we praise him not with complete clarity, but with many questions. Some days we praise him not with gratitude for what he's given to us, but with gratitude in spite of what we've lost. Our difficult circumstances do not call his character into question. We know that he is wise and powerful and good, and we praise him for it—continually. In fact, in the darkness of our lives he shines brighter.
About getting what we want through prayer . . .
When we read Jesus' encouragement to keep on asking, we are tempted to think that the secret formula for getting what we want from God is to wear him down by repeating our request. Or sometimes we think the secret to getting what we want from God is to get as many people as possible to ask God for it. Is that what's really behind many massive prayer requests we e-mail across the country? We think, Surely if enough people are praying, God will grant our request. Do sheer numbers or repetition really move the heart and hand of God? Prayer is about a conversation with God, not wearing him down to get what we want. Asking, seeking, and knocking have little to do with getting what we want from God but everything to do with getting God. And as we pursue God, he gives himself to us in fuller and newer ways.
About resentment . . .
Why is it that when someone in the family suspects the milk in the fridge has gone bad, he or she wants you to taste it, just to confirm the suspicion? I'll take your word for it! I want to say. Why would I want to taste it if it is sour?
Holding on to hurt and plotting your revenge is like choosing to chug a carton of sour milk. As the rotten stuff works its way through the facets of your personality, everything takes on that sour smell, taste, and temperament. The bitterness takes root inside you, coming out in the form of distrust, insecurity, criticism, guilt, anger, suspicion, and fear.
About nurturing an eternal perspective . . .
When we read Paul's description of his troubles as "small" and "momentary," we wonder if he really knew what it is like to suffer. But the truth is that Paul's suffering included being imprisoned, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, robbed, hungry, thirsty, cold, and naked—none of which I would describe as insignificant or brief. It is hard for us to understand how he could view these things as inconsequential, isn't it? But he saw them through the perspective of eternity, in light of the glory to come. Our problem is not so much in seeing our current affliction as light or our suffering as long, but that we think so little of eternity.
About groaning in the world while we wait for redemption . . .
Perhaps you have sometimes wondered if something is wrong with you or if you are deficient in your faith because you just can't share in the happy-all-the-time religion some people seem to have. When you find yourself groaning because of the death and destruction and disease and depression and deprivation in this world, and you find deep inside an intense longing for it all to be erased and made right, take heart. That is a sacred longing, placed deep within you by the Holy Spirit.
About letting go of grief . . .
When you love something or someone, the process of letting go is a painful one that takes some time, and it need not be rushed. Nor should it be avoided altogether. We feel the pain, mourn the loss, shed our tears, and with time we can begin to let go of the grief that has had such a hold on us. Perhaps it's not so much that we let go of our grief, but more that we give our grief permission to lessen its grip on us.