Acres of Hope

Finding Hope in the Midst of Heartache

by Amy Roberie

It’s August 2012, and it seems as if my worst fears have materialized. Homeless. Jobless. Sickness. Loneliness. Loss. Heartbreak. All of these words are accurate descriptions of my new life. We made a major change and left our ministry positions, and all that went along with them. In many ways we were on “top of our game.” This decision would be one that few people in the world we left behind understood and many on the outside couldn’t identify with.

A Valley of Heartache

Homeless – We lived with my parents and leased our house to tenants so that we could keep paying our mortgage.

Jobless – We planned to move and go immediately into another ministry role in a new city. After wise counsel, we decided to spend a season outside of vocational ministry to detox, rest, process, and heal. We made this decision a few months after our transition. By this time, we had spent our savings. This meant moving in with my parents and Josh just taking whatever job he could to bring some money in. This season turned into two years, and I spent those two years at home, something I had not done up to this point in our married life. 

Sickness – During this same time, my Dad was diagnosed with cancer and died less than six months later. I held his right hand, my Mom held his left, and my Aunt Cathleen talked of Jesus as he took his last breath on earth. 

Loneliness – Every relationship we had revolved around one place and one group of people. It felt like I moved to a remote, foreign country that was separated from civilization by oceans and 15+ hour plane rides. There was no internet or phone service in this new country. In reality, I was down the street. My address changed, but I was in the same city with the same phone number just fewer texts and calls.

Loss – I think in one way or another, we lost everything. At best everything changed, but mostly there was loss. Loss of friends and relationships. Loss of home. Loss of security. Loss of position. Loss of identity. 

My heart was broken in this season in what felt like every way. No area of life was spared. It was in the midst of this heartbreak that Lamentations 3 became my daily anthem. It both reflected my current heart ache and loss and also shined a glimmer of light on what seemed like an endless night.

“The thought of my suffering and homelessness
    is bitter beyond words.
 I will never forget this awful time,
    as I grieve over my loss.
 Yet I still dare to hope
    when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.

 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in him!”

Lamentations 3:19-24 NLT

Dare to Hope

Yet I still dare to hope….” I sat at the kitchen counter of my Mom’s house with Daniel Tiger playing in the background keeping 19-month-old Sophie entertained and wept. Hot tears streamed down my face as I read it again and again. Suffering and homelessness, bitterness, grief and loss, every word summed up my current state. “Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this.

My tears were still flowing, but a warmth began to fill my heart. God was still faithful. Even when I’ve lost everything, He is faithful. I decided that morning that the Lord would indeed by my inheritance and that I would hope in him. Even if my situation did not change, I had an eternal inheritance in the Lord and nothing and no person could change that. Everyone and everything could go wrong and let me down, but God is faithful, and because He is faithful, I can place my hope in him. 

Before this, hope was foreign to me. There were two common words in the “Christian Language” that I was somehow not literate in – hope and grace. This was the beginning of my journey with hope. Hope means – to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence; to believe, desire, or trust.

My hope in God and God alone meant my desire was Him. My confidence was in Him. My trust was in Him. I didn’t need a home or a job or people or any circumstance to change. I only needed Him. In fact, I learned that my heartache had become the catalyst for me discovering hope and ultimately discovering God and His nature in a whole new way. As Hosea puts it, my trouble became my gateway to experiencing hope.

“But then I will win her back once again.
    I will lead her into the desert
    and speak tenderly to her there.
I will return her vineyards to her
    and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.

Hosea 2:14-15

The Message paraphrase says, “I will turn heartbreak valley into acres of hope.” Today, I pray that whatever you are facing that the very heartbreak that should otherwise destroy you will become a gateway for you to walk into a spacious and wide-open acres of hope. 

Amy works at ARC, helping pastors start new churches across the country. Her heart is for women to find their true identity in Christ and become all that God intends for them.
You can follow her on Instagram at @amyroberie.

Unfinished Business

3 Ways to Handle Unmet Expectations

Have you ever thought of the perfect comeback except it was too late? Maybe someone put you on the spot and you didn’t think of the right response until the ride home. You left the conversation with unfinished business. Once you realized precisely what you wanted to say the chance to show the world your wit and brilliance had passed you by like someone waiting for a bus that has already come and gone.

It’s taking too long

Lately, I have been working on an outside project that is taking much longer than I expected. Ladders, tools, and pieces of wood are spread out all over the place. It has become a huge inconvenience. Not only that but each item is also a reminder that the project I want to be complete is currently just a mess. Parts of my heart can look this way at times as well.

Unfinished business can leave us with an uncomfortable weightiness. It’s like a cold for the soul. What do we do with this feeling? It can come from the abrupt ending of a hope or dream we wanted to work out. It’s the ache in the soul that arrives when people we love depart too soon. We know this feeling when the plans that we meticulously document in the journal of our heart are surprisingly blotted out by someone else’s intrusive marks.

What exactly are we supposed to do with unfinished business?

1. Honesty – This may be the most difficult thing to do, but we first need to be honest with ourselves. We should ask if this should ever have been our plan or desire to begin with. Was this ever the right relationship or career path or is it just wanted I wanted to work out? Is there a better fit elsewhere?

2. Healing – We need to be careful about continuing our journey on broken feet. Pushing through without pausing to heal may appear to be the best path but often leaves us stranded, vulnerable, and worse off than before. Wounded warriors are immortalized in film but are often the first casualties in the story of life when they do not stop to get the help they need. You will encounter pain in your journey but if every step hurts it may be time to not give up, but rest for the sake of finishing well.

3. Hope – Unfinished business can sometimes just be a reminder of who is the one actually writing our story. When we take the pen out of God’s hand we often settle for a dimmer version of the brighter story he had planned for us. Unfinished business reminds us to trust, have faith, and lean on the Author of our lives. You never know what surprise ending He may have in store for us if we insist on our own narrow expectations.

A missed opportunity, a failed accomplishment, and people who leave our lives too soon can leave us with feelings of despair. These are also opportunities for us to not only be reminded where our trust and comfort should really be but to also witness the miracle of God finishing the dream in a way that is beyond anything we could have ever expected.