Have you ever hoped for something? You may have hoped for a new job, hoped that your family or children will be safe and healthy, hoped that you will get married, hoped that you will stay married, hoped that a relationship will be mended, hoped that the worst does not happen, hoped that everything will just be okay…
My husband struggled with addiction for the first 5 years of our marriage. This included alcohol, drugs, gambling, and infidelity. Those years were filled with anxiety, stress, fear, anger, sadness, and deep pain. I prayed for my husband many times and was hopeful that some day things would change, but it felt like forever and the chances of it actually happening looked bleaker with each year that passed. Proverbs 13:12 (NIV) says,
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
My heart was very sick in this deferred hope (not to mention my sickness of codependency with an addict, but that’s another story!) It is a natural thing to feel sick or depressed when going through something difficult. BUT, I’m here to tell you that we CAN be hopeful that there is someone greater who is working for our good.
We bought a house several months prior to my husband going to rehab. At that time, his addictions were the worst they had ever been, as addiction is a progressive disease. One evening shortly after moving, he somehow lost his wedding ring. We knew it was in the house because he had it the night before. But the next morning before church, we could not find it anywhere. I am one of those people that will attribute meaning to just about anything. I was upset about the ring being missing and, deep down, more upset that our marriage was a disaster and not likely to succeed. I was miserable in my marriage and thought, “Well, maybe this is it… just too much has been lost to recover from.”
Months went by of my husband not wearing the ring and then he finally hit rock bottom. After some of the most painful moments of my life and an intervention, he went to an intense rehab facility for 90 days and got the help he so desperately needed. While he was gone, I was grieving many things and still in survival mode taking care of our 2 year old daughter. Most nights after she went to bed, I would cry and grieve all of the loss I was feeling. I recall one night praying that if there was any chance this marriage was still supposed to go on, I needed to find that ring. Thinking about his recovery process, I felt his success would still take a miracle because he would truly have to do a complete 180… turn the other direction (repent) and become a completely different man. I did have a shred of hope left that maybe God could restore our marriage. You could call it a mustard seed of faith too. Hope and faith are often tied together in Scripture as they go hand in hand. Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) says,
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
I surely did not see how our marriage could survive all the betrayal and hurt. There was so much to grieve and so much to forgive. Not long after this prayer, I was driving and saw a bumper sticker on the car in front of me that said, “Faith can move mountains.” My husband was in the mountains of Utah so I just bawled my eyes out and felt God giving me a little hope in that moment. Another time when he was gone, I decided to have a garage sale. While going through some of the boxes of stuff we no longer needed, I found his wedding ring that had been lost for 6 months! (apparently our daughter had misplaced it) I was shocked and, of course, emotional after finding it. This gave me more hope that maybe God was calling me to stay in my marriage. Even without this relational hope, I had hope and confidence that things would somehow be different in my life. Whether we were married or divorced, there was hope that everything was finally in the light and I no longer had to continue living in fear or shame.
I am happy to say that that season of my life is over. By the grace of God, my husband has remained clean and sober for over 20 months and is consistently demonstrating honesty and integrity to build back trust. It truly is a miracle that we were able to reconcile after all the destruction and loss his addiction brought. This is no instantaneous miracle, but one that requires work, dedication, and forgiveness. Romans 5:2-7 (NIV) says,
“we also boast in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”
Regardless of any worldly outcome that we are hoping for, we have a greater hope in Jesus Christ. Trials in this life only make sense with the lens of eternity set on our hearts. For example, the death of a loved one is one of the most painful things to endure in life and that grief can be almost unbearable at times. What hope do we have if we do not hope in our eternal life with Christ?
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)
No matter what we face in this life, we can be assured that there is always hope and that one day, there will be full restoration through Christ.
In this picture of my husband holding our daughter, he is wearing his HOPE DEALER hoodie and blowing into the breathalyzer one last time around his 1 year of sobriety. Notice that he is wearing his wedding ring too and my favorite verse is on our wall behind them,
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
Romans 12:12 (NIV)
On a side note, before writing this, I was watching Home Alone and laughed at Mrs. McCallister screaming, “This is Christmas, the season of perpetual HOPE!” The title only seemed fitting.
May you find joy and encouragement in this message of hope.