CORErecovery: Out of the Valley- Where My Hope is Found

 We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek.  Hebrews 6: 18-20 (MSG)

I have been thinking a lot lately about “hope”.   My church just finished a Summer women’s speaker series and this year’s theme was HOPE.  Each week, a woman would share her story of hope through difficult, and sometimes tragic circumstances.  Last week, I heard Jessica Paulraj share about how she found hope by keeping focused on Christ, and Christ alone. Two things struck me about her story:

  1.  Jessica’s ability to see the true beauty in her young adopted son who was born with cleft palate and lip, no eyelids, fused feet and no little toes or fingers.
  2. Jessica’s firm stance that her hope is not found in comparing her circumstances with others, or even the blessings that God has provided for her and her family.  Her hope isn’t in the gifts…it is in the Giver!

I thought of how so often in my recovery I stared in the mirror nit-picking every little aspect of my face and yet, here she stood sharing about how her son was born without the very parts of my face I despised.  Oh sure, as a “good” Christian I would have told you that I believe that my beauty “should not come from outward adornment” or appearances, but when push comes to shove…do I really believe that?  In my own ministry to others even today, I often quote the verse on the front of Jessica’s blog:

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:16)

And yet, as I sat there that night and listened to her story, her son’s journey, it gave me a perspective that I had not yet seen.  In my own recovery and in the recovery I was constantly reminding myself that God thinks I am beautiful just the way I am, that He created me in my innermost being, that I am valued far more than rubies.  I would look in the mirror…on days when I could actually even look in the mirror…and be disappointed, distracted by my perceived flaws, and sometimes even disgusted.  I said I believe all those things of Scripture, yet I didn’t act like it in my daily life.  To be honest, sometimes I am still guilty of this.  There are still days when I don’t feel beautiful..or even mildly attractive.  So as I listened to Jessica share Adam’s story, I began to ask myself, what would it mean to really believe God, to take Him at His Word?  What would it mean if I really began to focus on His Truth?  What is the truth about me?  About you?

God makes it pretty clear:

People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).

God is looking at my heart not my hair or my hips.  My heart is what is important to Him.

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

God made mankind in HIS image, and since He is not “looking” at my outer appearance, my heart, my innermost being, was created to be like Him.  I need to know more about what God is like (don’t worry, future blogs will discuss this) so I can know what this means.  Perhaps my inner heartache, my need to belong, stems from the fact that I long to belong in His image.

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:3-4

Yes, I do have to wear clothes living in this world, but clothes and other adornments are not wear my beauty is found.  Again, I am told my beauty comes from my innermost being, my heart, my spirit.  It also says this spirit of mine, should be gentle and quiet.  I don’t know about you, but in my battle to recover from my eating disorder, my spirit was anything but quiet.  I had to learn to rest in His Word, to take refuge there.  Even in my daily life today, things get noisy in my life…work, family, other responsibilities, unexpected hardships, all crowding in and running through my mind.  In order for me to find that gentle and quiet spirit, I need to remind myself of God’s truth which He shares in His  word.

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. Psalm 119:114

This scripture brings me to the second “takeaway” from that night.  After sharing her story of how she and her husband had trusted God in the adopting of their son, how God had provided the necessary funds through the donations of strangers for Adam’s first of many surgeries, she asked us to remember these simple truths:

Our hope does not rest on comparing our circumstances with others:

Well, at least my life isn’t that bad.

If God can help her, I can have hope that He will help me.

Nor can we place our hope in the blessings or gifts He gives us in life.  I could really relate to this one especially.  I believe that God provided me with a good treatment team while I was in recovery.  However, I could not place my hope for recovery in them.  They were there to teach me and guide me, but I would not always have them.  I would have to find my hope in something that is unchangeable, everlasting, eternal.  This kind of hope can only come from Christ, and Him alone.

Let’s take a closer look at Hebrews 6

When people make promises, they guarantee them by appeal to some authority above them so that if there is any question that they’ll make good on the promise, the authority will back them up. When God wanted to guarantee his promises, he gave his word, a rock-solid guarantee—God can’t break his word. And because his word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable. We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6: 18-20 (MSG)

Our whole lives we long to have promises kept.  We want to be assured that there is meaning, hope, and purpose for us.  We want a guarantee.  There are no guarantees in this life, but there is a guarantee in God’s Word.  It says in this passage that because God cannot break or change His Word, His promises to us are also unbreakable and unchangeable.  THIS is where we can place our HOPE.  That promised hope is where we can look to, what we can hold on to, and what ultimately will keep us running in the right direction in our lives.

True, God has given us many gifts in this life, good treatment teams, church homes, support systems.  Maybe we are blessed good financial status or great family lives, but maybe we are not.  Either way, that is not where our hope rests.  Also, although we can hear the stories of others who share about THEIR hope in Christ, we cannot place our hope in those stories or people.  Our hope is not in comparing our stories with the stories of others.  Our hope is in Christ alone.  In Him I have an unchangeable, eternal, unbreakable Hope.  It is in this hope I hold fast to as I run for my life.

I encourage you to find out more about Jessica, her family, and her son Adam’s journey.  As you read about her circumstances, her son’s difficulties, try to resist the urge to compare.  Look for the hope she shares.  It is not a hope of better circumstances, but a hope that is already been given in Christ. 



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