* I originally wrote this post as part of a summer book club on the Revive Our Hearts blogs, and though it is based on You Can Trust God to Write Your Story by Nancy and Robert Wolgemuth, these words beat from my heart and can connect with you—whether or not you’ve read their book.
Hope scares me now.
Hope feels dangerous. Hope feels vulnerable. Hope even feels . . . a little silly.
I’ve learned to be gut-level honest here in the valley of the shadow of death—the place that seems like my permanent residence these days, so I’m not afraid to confess that the sludge of muddy grief tempts me to kill my hope and bury it deep in this pit.
As my dreams and expectations have been crushed into a dusty powder, I’ve grieved the crushing’s sting. Now, as I sprinkle that powder into the thick mud of loss, I realize I refuse to allow my weighed-down lungs to breathe in new hope.
I’m scared to trust God for redemption and healing in my story.
What if I’m crushed again?
What if I face more loss?
It seems safer to squelch hope and carry on, like Naomi did when she returned to Bethlehem husbandless, sonless, and hopeless.
Grief can’t steal as much from you if you don’t carry hope around, right? If I give voice to my tiny and tender dreams for newness and healing, vulnerable like delicate saplings, won’t I end up feeling foolish when another wave of pain washes away those baby buds in a flash flood?
Restoration and healing and redemption would be really cool, God. But it feels like my story stops here. I don’t see movement. I don’t see the tide shifting. I don’t know how to hope anymore. Honestly, I’m terrified to hope.
When You Think the Story Is Done
Then God steps in—like He always does—to capture my heart with Ruth and Naomi’s redemption story. Actually, He undid me with their story.
I read chapter 7 of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story with a wild churning in my stomach, feeling that God was clearly arresting my attention with tailor-made truth for this exact moment. It was the feeling just before He sends rains of grace into your scorched-dry soul.
If you, too, have been afraid to hope . . .
If you feel like your story is over . . .
If you don’t know how much longer you can live in the valley of death . . .
If you don’t know how to trust God in the midst of your grief . . .
. . . dare to open your heart to the perspective-shifting truth of a steadfast God who actively protects and shepherds two grieving and nearly destitute women in the book of Ruth.
This is a story of a wakeful, watchful God who knows when a sparrow falls to the ground, who knows the number of hairs on our head and the number of stars in the universe. A God who ordains and superintends all the details of our lives from the tiniest to the greatest. It is a story of divine Providence. (You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, p. 100)
This is who our God is—wakeful, watchful, not checked out, not leaving you to fend for yourself. God doesn’t desert His children. He rescues them.
But it’s hard to keep believing that truth when our experiences tell us that there’s no rescue from our current destruction.
Naomi believed her story was done. God had allowed loss in her life, and she settled deep into the fog of life’s painful realities, accepting her “fate.” She said, “The Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty” (Ruth 1:20–21).
But painful realities can’t limit God. Just when Naomi thought there would be nothing else to hope for, God was already turning the tide. They returned to Bethlehem wrecked by loss, but this was where God would begin a new story.
Distressing as they were, the calamities experienced by Ruth and Naomi were not ultimate. At times these grieving women must have felt that their story was over. But their losses actually set the stage and provided a platform for God to continue writing His story of redemption, as He does in all our losses and sorrows. (You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, p. 104, emphasis mine)
Although loss, pain, and widowhood set the stage for Boaz and Ruth’s redemptive marriage, the outcome was nothing short of a miracle. They became King David’s great grandparents—they were part of the lineage of Jesus Christ (Matt. 1).
Ruth couldn’t have known to hope for the kind of rescue that would eventually lead to the birth of the Messiah who would redeem every sinner who trusts in Him, but she did hope in God as her Protector and Provider, even when uncertainty swirled around her.
What if our deepest losses aren’t the end of the story, but rather the beginning? What if your hope-threatening pain is an invitation to experience the day-by-day provision and kindness of our steadfast God? What if He wants you to trust that He can write healing into your story in ways you never imagined possible?
Hope Does Not Put Us to Shame
Today I’m choosing to believe that my story isn’t over.
Today I’m giving the entirety of my scared-to-hope heart to the God who rescued and redeemed Ruth and Naomi.
Today I’m reading Romans 5 and asking my Protector and Provider to help me endure, to help me put one foot in front of the other with the faith that this waiting, this wailing, this obedience, and this perseverance will develop beauty that glorifies the rescuing power of Jesus.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Rom. 5:1–5, emphasis mine)
When we commit ourselves to endurance and obedience in suffering, we can hope for the precious healing and wholeness and joy that comes from a story redeemed by God, because:
1. His Word tells us to hope.
Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. (Ps. 33:20–22)
2. His Word shows us why we can hope.
The entire arc of Scripture shouts the name of a rescuing God who has a plan to turn evil into good for His people.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. (Rev. 21:4–6)
Loss may have stripped away your joy and your hope; you may be limping back to your own Bethlehem like Naomi, but this valley may be the holy path God uses to write profound beauty into your life.
Your story is not over. Say it again and again and again until you believe it. My story is not over.
Dare to declare vulnerable hope in God today. Choose to believe that He is your Protector and Provider, and that He will turn the tide.