A glimpse into Kolleen's healing journey
When it occurred to me that this was the last week of August, I envisioned September as one of the transition options used in our teaching videos. So long, August! [insert "wipe-right" transition] September is moving in!
I must admit, I have mixed emotions as summer fades into a memory and the fall season approaches. My health and healing journey put limitations on my summer, so I hate to see it end. And yet, the anticipation of my doctor's words, "Give me six months" fill me with such hope that I want to sprint to get there. Well, not sprint, but walk fast, for sure.
At the same time, I think about this journey I've been on and consider what I've learned about God, myself, and our relationship. Would I change anything? Probably not. We had no idea when we listed our monthly themes for the year last October, what I'd be navigating through. But, God did. He knew this month's topic would hit my heart — hard. It would be one of the most difficult video teachings Chrissy and I have done. [No exaggeration, we weren't sure if I'd get through it.] It rattled me.
But that's what this time has done. I've wrestled. I've debated. I've begged. And now, I am ready to share a bit about what God has taught me about faith–specifically, my faith. And one of the most significant lessons for me in this season has been the discovery of the difference between: faith, hope, belief and expectation. Check out these definitions:
Expectation: "a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future." (Oxford Languages).
Hope: "to cherish a desire with anticipation: to want something to happen or be true; to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment." (Merriam-Webster).
Belief: "a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing."(Merriam-Webster).
Faith: "belief and trust in and loyalty to God." (Merriam-Webster).
The Lord brought so much clarity to my life when I read this on Merriam-Webster: "EXPECT implies a high degree of certainty and usually involves the idea of preparing or envisioning. HOPE implies little certainty but suggests confidence or assurance in the possibility that what one desires or longs for will happen. LOOK, with to, implies assurance that expectations will be fulfilled."
The lesson for me in this was faith is more than expectation. We are called to pray without ceasing; "Never stop praying," Paul wrote (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NET). I also have no doubt we are to expect God to hear our prayers. What He's showing me about myself is that I've grown to expect Him to answer my prayer according to what I've come to cherish. This creates a plan of hope, which I've decided will be the best for me. Hope decides what will fulfill my desire and this allows anticipation to swell within me. I want such-and-such to happen this way or be true because I say it has to be or all hope will be lost. And because I believe God is who he says he is and have placed my confidence in him. I believe he will fulfill my desires. After-all, wasn't it Jesus who said we should ask for anything?
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened" (Matthew 7:7-8, NET, emphasis mine).
“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you" (Matthew 18:19, NET, emphasis mine).
"But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask” (John 11:22, NET, emphasis mine)
Ask, right? Anything, right?
Well, I've asked. I've expected. I've hoped. I've believed. I've also found myself shattered by the unexpected. I've sensed a seed of skepticism and doubt has been allowed to creep in and walk hand-in-hand with belief. Wishy-washy prayers. Afraid to ask because I don't want to be disappointed – again. Can you relate?
But then God helps me see that faith has an element of expectation, hope and belief, but it does not encompass them. Not at all. Faith is beyond them.
Faith is this: belief in, trust in, loyalty to God.
Faith is misguided when we put it in our expectations, hope and belief rather than IN God. Faith is found in a relationship with our heavenly Father that desires to give us good things. Like a child on a shopping trip with mom and dad, we can ask God for whatever we want. We can always ask, but the answer must be left up to him. He knows if it's a need or a want. He knows if it is for our good and for a God-glorifying-purpose. I've felt the ache in my heart when it was necessary to disappoint our kids when the answer to their ask had to be no. Imagine how much it must hurt God's heart to disappoint his children. Perhaps we can't because we've become so accustomed in this culture to grab whatever we want, whenever, for whomever.
In this season, I have discovered true faith remains loyal to God even in the midst of disappointing answers. I can expect. I should hope. I must believe. But, I will let God decide what is best and remain faithful to him because I know he is faithful to me.
Jesus said: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, but it did not collapse because its foundation had been laid on rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the flood came, and the winds beat against that house, and it collapsed—it was utterly destroyed!”(Matthew 7:24-27, NET).
Whatever may have caused you to lose hope, question God and his ways, we invite you to join us this month at Activ8Her as we pursue the restoration of faith.