Tuesday, June 17, 2014

When Hope is a Mirage

When Hope Seems Like A Mirage

You don’t have to live in a desert to experience a mirage!
I live in a tropical part of the country, a place many would call an oasis, surrounded bypalm trees, warm ocean breezes and skies as blue as sapphires.  My surroundings are filled with lush green grass, gardens bursting with color year round and an ocean accessible at any moment.  It truly is paradise.
Yet, even in all of this beauty, when the circumstances of life crowd out the luscious greens and deep blues, my spirit can feel dry and parched as if I were living in the desert.
We have all experienced either a dry parched marriage,  or a swirling sand storm of loss, or the cracked, brittle soil of finances.  Often these deserts can consume all the beauty around us and leave us wandering across endless dunes in search of any bit of hope to sustain us through the barrenness.
So, what do we do when we find ourselves in the desert, clinging to hope just as we should, only to get close enough and find it is fleeting and unreachable, as if it were a mirage?  How do we keep ourselves from sinking deeper into the desert sands of despair?
I was grateful for a dear friend’s recent reminder as our desert travels have mirrored each other for the past two years.  Together, we have each weathered tragic loss and impending uncertainty for the future.  And although the truth of this reminder was already planted deep in my brain, somehow, the simplicity had been lost in the desert dune trudging.
When we find ourselves in the desert, the most simple and profound act of hope is praise.  (Tweet this!)
The truth of this statement takes time to sink in.  It is extremely difficult to praise in the midst of difficulties, especially when hope continues to be trampled on by the long waiting or the worsening of events.
Paul and Silas experienced this very thing when they were imprisoned, and in the book of Acts, we are shown a glimpse of them singing hymns of praise to God when the future held no promise or end to their circumstances.  As they were singing, we get to peek in and see how God threw the jail doors open, and not only were Paul and Silas saved from their horrible ordeal, but the jail keeper and his entire household were saved in the process.

When Jehoshaphat, king over Judah was facing what appeared to be a huge defeat from the armies of Moab and Ammon, he not only sought God out for help, and proclaimed his trust by vowing to keep his eyes on God, but he went one step further.  He instructed the people to have faith in God to uphold them and appointed men to go before their army, singing to the Lord and praising Him for the splendor of His holiness.  As they were singing, God was already at work, setting ambushes and shoring up their victory.
What a hope filled image!
I can’t help but be encouraged.  How easy it is to get so caught up in the discouragement of the situation and the passing mirages of  hope, that we completely neglect simply praising.
When we are praising, our spirits of turmoil are replaced by trust and assurance.  Our eyes remain fixed and focused on God instead of our circumstances.  In the praising, we are able to look past the mirages and see things from a different perspective….God’s perspective.
When we can see with God’s perspective, the end of our desert is nearer than we realize.
What appears as another moment of dashed hope….another mirage,  may end up being the real oasis we have been longing for and holding out for, and praise can be the very agent of strength and trust we need to get there.