This post originally appeared as part of an article on Sheila’s personal blog, Pausing to Praise. She has given us permission to share it here.
I remember when we brought my oldest son, Justin, home from the hospital after he suffered severe brain damage following open-heart surgery. He was a dramatically different child from the happy, energetic five-year-old little boy who went into the hospital several months earlier. My red-headed fireball of energy was no longer able to walk or talk or eat or even hold his head upright without assistance.
I felt as though my whole world had come crashing down around me, and all joy had been swallowed up in deep darkness. But in the midst of my pain, I clung to the hope that someday he would recover. I imagined a day when Justin was again normal and all my children were healthy and happy. My heart hoped for a happy ending that would relieve my suffering by removing it.
How do we envision our happy ending? Most of us have a preconceived idea of what will make us happy, satisfied, and fulfill all our longings.
Of course there are some very real hurts and difficulties in this broken world, but most of us are unhappy because we’re chasing earthly things, and all the while our hearts long for something more. But when we don’t understand our heart’s cry for God, then we have a misconception of both suffering and happiness.
So we keep hoping for our ‘happy ending.’
But hope is a ‘maybe’ word, while faith trusts in a sure thing. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). I love what Matthew Henry had to say in his commentary on this verse. “Faith and hope go together; and the same things that are the object of our hope are the object of our faith. It is a firm persuasion that God will perform all that he has promised to us in Christ.”
If He is the object of our faith, then He is the substance of our hope. But we don’t often exchange our hope for faith overnight or with the sheer force of our will. Sanctification is a slow process, fed by devotion to prayer and God’s Word. Some lessons don’t ever seem to take a permanent hold in our thoughts—we have to keep preaching them to ourselves—reminding ourselves about the truth of the gospel and the sovereignty of God. Often it is suffering that forces us to surrender our imperfect desires and our feeble hopes, and brings us to our knees and to God’s Word.
The day when Justin fully recovered from his brain injury never came, but I found true joy and the real source of my ‘happily ever after’ did not rely on material possessions, earthly relationships, or circumstances that relieved my difficulties. And today I remind myself that when I surrender my hopes for happiness for faith in a sovereign Savior, he becomes both the source and substance of my joy–today and tomorrow and ‘happily ever after.’
This post was written by Sheila Campbell. To read more about her, click here.