“Hope does not disappoint us? I’m not buying it anymore!” cried Carla.
After a beat, Janet probed, “What are you saying?”
“I’m saying I’ve hoped in God for a long time. I’ve sacrificed pride and comforts and the easy way out to follow what I thought was...who I thought God was. I really believed that He would work all things for good. But, the more I hope, the more I feel let down. It was tolerable when I was younger. My perspective was so much more indestructible. But I’ve reached my limit. I have always hoped for the best for Denise, my beloved only child. To know the love of the Lord. To make good decisions and have a safe and happy life. Yet, she is not safe, nor happy, and I feel she is completely out of my reach. I am most definitely, and irreversibly disappointed. I cannot take the emotional drain of any more of this ‘hope’.” With the look of someone who had made a decision, Carla finished, “I’m out.”
“Out of what?”
“Out of hope. Out of faith. Out of the church.”
Because Janet knew Carla so well, she asked with loving sarcasm, “So, then. Where will you go?”
The two friends looked at each other with the understanding and acceptance of much shared experience, as time passed through the air between them. “Do you have any suggestions?” whispered Carla.
“How about a farfengartle?”
Carla’s solemn stare suggested a tad of irritation or anger mixed with bits of exhaustion or sorrow.
“I’m sure you read about it in the Times. It’s one of those new fancy gadgets. Better than an iPod. It morphs your perspective.”
“Oh, hah, hah. Lay off my perspective, would you? It’s been violated enough already.”
Then, with the kind of directness that changes the course and tone of a conversation, Janet pressed on. “What is your perspective with Denise...hope or expectation?”
There are questions that sting the heart and the conscience simultaneously yet in distinct ways. They can gut a person, leaving them raw yet with nothing but the very answer they need. Carla’s only movement was that of the dampness slowly moving from her eyes to her cheekbones.
“You know where I’m going with this don’t you?” Janet verified.
A slight nod.
Gentleness embraced the rest of Janet’s words. “It’s called hope when it is in God. It’s called an expectation when you place it on a person or a situation. When you place a specific expectation, you’ve just defined a future disappointment. God doesn’t guarantee the picture we design in our mind, but He does guarantee Himself.”
This was why Carla had sacrificed pride and comforts and the easy way out to follow her God. Because He knew when to show up in the form of Janet Hastings. Therein lies the beauty of fellowship as well. Hoping together. And helping each other find hope again when we lose it.
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