I’m sure every one of us has felt at one time or another like God is stripping us of that which isn’t truly important. In Job 19:10, Job describes it this way, “He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone; And He has uprooted my hope like a tree.” (NASB)
Whether it’s through emotional pain, physical pain, disappointment, misumderstandings, misrepresentations, gossip about us, or any number of life happenings, God has a creative assortment of ways to reveal and cleanse that which can be of hope to us. And of course, ultimately, our strongest hope should be in God. Hope in God reveals itself when we trust Him regardless of the circumstances. When we believe His promise that He will cause all things to work together for good (Romans 8:28). Can we ever get to the place of our hope being only in God? No. That would require perfection. But His purpose in allowing difficulty is to more and more create a greater hope in Him and less in other things.
I looked more closely at Job’s metaphor: “He has uprooted my hope like a tree.” There are, I’m sure, many ways to remove a tree, but one important thing is to get to the roots. He doesn’t write, “He cuts off my hope like a tree and leaves a stump.” But he “uproots.” It’s important to remove the roots, otherwise, sometimes, a few branches will again start growing from the stump.
By inference, I think Job is saying that the “tree” needing uprooting is a bad tree; the hope that needs to be broken and uprooted is a bad hope; a hope that is not based in trust in God.
Now that the Lord has chosen to further my healing and I’m sometimes painfree, even though my sitting time is limited, I’m finding there are some things God is uprooting. The old practices from before I became injured nine months ago seem to be ideas God is wanting to re-mold. He has uprooted most of the tree but wouldn’t you know it? There are some roots still resistantly clinging to the dirt below ground.
I wrote in my journal, “I’m really recognizing the challenge now of getting back into a normal life. Rather than having to be totally focused on staying out of pain, I am needing to make choices with my time, etc. I keep thinking of Jesus asking the lame man, “Do you want to get well?” Seems like a no brainer but sometimes it’s easier to be sick then you only have to think about one thing. The Lord is challenging me to be multi-tasking, which as a perfectionist I don’t like. I like to be all of nothing, and just concentrate on one thing. Being sick is right along my alley. Focus on just one thing: me!” I added, “Haha!”
Not only do I like to focus on one thing, I’m finding it hard to even make decisions sometimes. It’s hard to believe that in only nine months I could lose so much of my decision making abilities. They say a person who is released from prison has a hard time making choices because in prison everything was decided for them. I can relate. Specifically, what should I do with my time right now since I don’t have to only think about doing whatever is needed to stay out of pain?
I think the further root God is pulling out is my tendency to want a formula, a plan that will guide me. If I follow the formula or the plan, I don’t have to walk with God moment by moment. It’s already determined. For instance, I tend to like Bible reading or studying programs. Of course, those are wonderful. But could the Lord be calling me to ask Him each day what He wants me to do that might not follow the plan? That’s more scary. Is my “hope” in that plan rather than God? This seems to be broadening the application of what we might “hope in” but I think it can be true.
I recently chatted with a gal who is going through a hard time and she seemed to be wanting a formula for how to handle the challenges she was facing. God gave me the idea to offer her two envelopes to choose from. One envelope is labeled, “Contains formula and doesn’t require God.” The other envelop is labeled, “No formula but requires walking intimately with God.” Even after I described the first envelope, she nodded knowing what was coming in the second envelope. And she recognized that she wanted hope in a formula that would remove her need to walk closely with God.
I’m also wanting a formula for how to use this new freedom I have. My frustration of having so many choices and so few things accomplished at the end of the day is forcing me to put my hope in walking with God and not in forcing things to happen in order to check off my to-do list. A new root is being pulled out. The root of my false “hope” is the good feeling of accomplishing something rather than trusting that God has led and I have followed, regardless of seeming ineffectiveness and inefficiency.
Is there a “hope” that God is trying to uproot in your life? Are you frustrated that things aren’t happening the way you think they should? Does God have a different plan that requires you walk closely with Him and leave the uncertainty for Him to deal with?
We are being stretched like Job. Later in this 19th chapter of Job, he writes, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives” (verse 25). God is working to keep our eyes on hope of Him and Him redeeming everything about our lives.