Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame. | Psalm 25:3a
“My Lord God, give me once more the courage to hope; Merciful God, let me hope once again, Fructify my barren and infertile mind.” | Soren Kierkegaard
According to the CDC, suicide became the second highest cause of death among those aged 10-34 and the fourth highest cause of death among those aged 35-54 in the United States in 2016.
Depression rates have increased by 33% from 2013-2016, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Every circumstance is different and unique. There can be many different factors that contribute to these conditions.
I believe it’s safe to assume
a good chunk of these individuals
struggle with their identity.
Most of us struggle with our identity because of the different struggles in life:
- death of loved ones
- career disappointment
- chronic pain
- relationship issues
We often allow these events to be the basis of our identity slowly over time.
Don’t get me wrong. It is right to feel sad and to grieve over these things.
But maybe part of our pain is magnified
because we put too much of our hope
in the identity these things give us
instead of the identity God gives us.
Misplaced hope is one of the greatest reasons for our sin and sorrow. It is very easy for hopelessness to settle in when we try to obtain our identity outside of God. Even more so when we are in a long season, waiting for change. And when you live with no hope for the future, you’re doomed. There is no more fight.
But Christians are
people of hope
It is this hope that has carried Christians through all kinds of difficulty and sorrow throughout history. Hope has preserved the faith.
I do not want to give false hope and say things will get better. They may not. They may possibly get worse. But, when our hope is put in our God-given identity, we can have hope—even in the midst of all kinds of disappointment and trials.
I want to offer three reasons
why we can have hope in our waiting
when our hope is based on
our identity in Christ alone.
1) Weakness, despair, and dissatisfaction are not enough to keep you from hoping
When your hope is in the identity you have in Christ, you do not need to be strong or successful. You can have hope in the midst of uncertainty, weakness, and failure. This hope is not dependent on what you have or have not achieved. It is not dependent on what you do or do not have.
All this hope requires is for you to lean on Christ. Waiting is a means in which God wants to draw you close (Psalm 55:22). This is shown in Octavius Winslow’s poem, “Lean Hard”:
Child of My love, lean hard,
And let Me feel the pressure of thy care;
I know thy burden, child, I shaped it;
Poised it in My own hand, made no proportion in its weight to thine unaided strength;
For even as I laid it on, I said
I shall be near, and while he leans on Me,
This burden shall be Mine, not his;
So shall I keep My child within the circling arms of My own love.
Here lay it down, nor fear to impose it on a shoulder which upholds the government of worlds.
Yet closer come; thou art not near enough;
I would embrace thy care so I might feel My child reposing on My breast.
Thou lovest Me? I know it. Doubt not then;
But, loving Me, Lean Hard.”
2) You are not settling for a consolation prize in Jesus as you wait. Jesus is the prize.
I know when people express this idea to me, my first inclination is to act like a brat and think, “I already have Jesus! Why can’t I just get what I want?!”—even as I nod my head in agreement.
But maybe what I want pales in comparison to what is offered in Christ. Jesus explains this:
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. | Mathew 13:44
Jesus is not offering up hyperbole here. He knows what it means to give up everything. He gave up everything He had in heaven to save and redeem us.
That’s why The kingdom of heaven ends our searching. You can give up everything and stop your searching when you find a treasure that you know is far more valuable than anything else you have or want.
3) Jesus wants you to know and have this treasure abundantly
Sometimes God shows us grace through the hurt and discontent in our waiting. We can see this with David. God is always working through all of David’s mistakes, failures, and fears in order to make him the man God wants him to be.
If we do not get this, we will always see the quality of our faith based on a certain behavior—like the number of quiet times you did or you not watching an R- rated movie—instead of whom/what your heart belongs to.
Your God-given identity destroys the
prison of self-achieved identity found in
our circumstances and replaces it with the
freedom of the saving grace of Christ.
He will keep you and shape you through the highs and lows of your life. Vaneetha Rendall Risner explains it well:
“In retrospect, I can see that “wait” is the most precious answer God can give us. It makes us cling to him rather than cling to an outcome. God knows what I need. I do not. He sees the future. I cannot. His perspective is eternal. Mine is not. He will give me what is best for me. When it is best for me. As Paul Tripp says, ‘Waiting is not just about what I get at the end of the wait, but about who I become as I wait.’” | Vaneetha Rendall Risner
Waiting is hard and offers plenty of opportunity for hopelessness. But our identity in Christ is full of truths that comfort and sustain us in our waiting. Our successes and disappointments here on earth are not our end. They don’t define us. They are all part of the journey.
Our end is heaven. And the end is not great
because we will be without pain and hurt.
It is great because we will be with Christ.
And when we are in heaven there will be no struggle to hold on to that truth. The veil will be lifted and all our hopes and true dreams will be realized.
And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. | 1 Peter 5:4