My hope is broken this Advent.
Advent is a season of hope, a season of anticipation, a season of waiting expectantly. Advent is a time when we remember Israel waiting for Messiah, and when we remember that we are waiting for Messiah still. It is a time when we choose to hope despite the darkness. But this advent I can’t choose hope.
I’m too cynical these days, too wounded, too let down to hope. God has let me down too many times. Life has fallen apart too often. My heart has been shattered too many times. I have cried till I have no more tears. I have begged and pleaded with God to intervene, to come down and visit me in my darkness and pain, to save me. I have waited and hoped, and I have received silence.
This advent, I have no more hope to give to the God of the universe. I have no more waiting to do. I am tired, I am weary, I am spent.
I have nothing but anger for God these days. I am angry that He wouldn’t save my marriage. I am angry that he has remained aloof, silent, far from me. I have anger, I have words of fear and pain, I have cynicism, but I have no hope.
They say that hope deferred will kill the heart. They say we are saved by hope. They say that hope never fails. They say a lot of things about hope, but I have yet to hear talk about how to save a broken, sinking hope.
How do I heal a broken heart that has given up believing in healing?
This is all so depressing to put down on paper.
This is the darkness of my winter season. I’m probably being a bit melodramatic with all these words, but I’m a writer with bipolar so that’s allowed.
I don’t want anyone to worry about me. I’m not despairing of life. I’m not suicidal. I’m not giving up. I just don’t know how to keep hoping for miracles anymore. I don’t know how to hope that God will come and visit us who sit in the shadows. I don’t know how to keep my faith in God these days.
Good Christians aren’t supposed to say things like this. Well, I’ve never claimed to be a good Christian. I’d rather be honest. The honest truth is I don’t know if I believe in God’s salvation these days. There is too much that has happened in my life, in the world, too much suffering, too much pain, too much broken hope and it threatens to swallow up my faith.
I’ve never been good at reconciling personal suffering and a supposedly omnipotent deity. I’ve heard the explanations that suffering teaches us lessons, forms our character, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. They don’t provide a good enough answer for me. If God is all-powerful, why doesn’t he intervene, especially for those how trust in him, especially for those who hope in him? That haunting question has left a gaping hole in my faith, and from that unbelief I have learned cynicism.
I don’t want to be jaded.
I don’t want to be this angry in the dark kind of Christian. I don’t want to be hopeless, lost, and cynical. I don’t want to feel my faith keep slipping away.
I want to believe. I want to have the kind of faith that is beautiful, childlike, and whole. I want to find hopeful words in scripture, not just questions and unbelief. I want to sing songs that I mean with my whole heart instead of remaining stoic and silent. I want to believe Jesus in spite of the suffering, the pain, the hardness of this life. I want to believe that Jesus is near, sitting with me instead of distancing himself and remaining aloof.
So, what do I do when my hope is so broken yet I hunger to believe?
If I’m honest with you, I have to say I don’t have an answer to that question. There is part of me that wants to lie, to tell you it’s prayer that pulls me through, or scripture, or songs, or books. I want to lie to you because it’s fighting to not know how to heal my hope.
What I do know is that cynicism and my broken hope isn’t the sickness; it’s just a symptom. Under my cynicism hides anger, and under that anger hides hurt, and under the hurt lies fear. If I’m going to deal with these symptoms and find some sort of healing for this broken hope, I have to dig out the root and face that fear that is under it all. If I don’t, I’m going to lose my faith for sure.
I guess I have some work to do. If I don’t want to continue to be jaded, if I don’t want my cynicism to eat up my faith, I am going to have to face this deep dark fear. But what am I afraid of? What is so freighting to me that I would bury it under layers and layers of emotional and spiritual baggage? Well, that’s part of the work.
It’s time to find out what I am afraid of.
This is going to hurt. This is going to be something my therapist and I will go round and round about. This is something that is going to take some time to finish, just like it took time to bring my heart to know this cynicism.
So, where does that leave me this advent?
I guess even with this broken hope I’m still waiting. I’m waiting on hope, peace, joy, and love to come. I’m waiting in this dark. I’m waiting in this hurt. I’m waiting in this fear that the waiting will never end. But I’m waiting for Christ. Maybe it’s not that I need to hope to experience advent. Maybe it’s the waiting that is the advent experience. Waiting with broken, stumbling hope. Waiting with turmoil in my heart of hearts. Waiting knowing that I’ve been waiting for so long. Waiting, waiting, and waiting.
I guess that’s what advent is all about.