At the beginning of the year, just like every year, the Lord gave me a word: Hope. What did that mean to me? It meant to have hope that I’d be getting married that year, of course! After all, I’d been in this relationship a long time, and I’m pretty sure God said this was “the one.”
Just a few weeks later, though, the Lord asked me to give up the idol in my life. I didn’t need to ask him which idol. I knew he was referring to the person I planned to marry. “Okay, God,” I said. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I won’t idolize them anymore.” And I surrendered that person to the Lord, fully believing that He would appreciate that act of faith and finally bring about that marriage I was so eagerly awaiting. “I’ll give this person to you if you’ll give them back better than ever.” That’s what I thought our deal was.
But when that very relationship started crumbling apart exactly one day after I surrendered it to the Lord, I realized He wasn’t joking when he told me to give up that idol. He really meant GIVE IT UP. And as the relationship finally ended, and my mental and physical health went to ruin from heartbreak, I was forced to face up to just how much power I had given to a human being.
“Love” failed me immensely. And I thought God did too. But bit by bit, I allowed Him to reveal what true Love really is in my life. It’s a Love that has been with me since I was a child and has never left, even when I replaced Him with another. It’s a Love that was gracious enough to save me from my own destruction in a toxic relationship that I was too blind to see out of. And it’s a Love that rescued me from six years of social anxiety that I couldn’t get out of by myself no matter how hard I tried.
Love is not an emotion (praise God!). As cheesy as it sounds, it really is a person. I had previously known the Lord like a kind of puppy, always constant and affectionate, but sometimes annoying when He wants too much attention. But that’s not accurate at all for how the Lion of Judah is. He is a jealous God, with fierce love for His Bride (that’s you and me) that refuses to let anything or anyone come between us. And that God brings with Him Freedom and Healing and Joy and Peace unlike anything we can ever feel with a human being.
Family and friends have since told me that I seem so happy now. Truth is, they’re wrong. It’s not happiness, although I am happy. It’s not an emotion I’m feeling. It’s pure and unadulterated Joy that I haven’t had in years. I thought I was happy during that relationship, and I thought I’d be happy if we got married, but I’ve never felt so joyous and loved as I do now. And better yet, it’s not a selfish joy that can only be shared between me and another person. It’s contagious, and it spills out and infects anyone around me without hesitation or shame.
Looking back, I see now why the Lord gave me the word “hope.” He was about to take me through the toughest storm I’ve ever endured in order to bring me to a beautiful place of rest and favor in His presence.
I have a new word for 2017 now: Faith, which is only natural after Hope. After all, “Faith is being confident of what we hope for, convinced about things we do not see” (New Heart English Bible). God’s going to do some BIG things in this New Year. And after all he did for me in 2016, I know I’ll see them come to pass. May you experience that same Joy that I have, and may you trust in His unfailing Love, even when it hurts.