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Emptied Hope

No one likes empty promises. Holding to hope when there’s no fulfillment in sight. No hope is better than an empty hope, I thought. So for many years, I couldn’t embrace the word of God, I couldn’t believe the things that were said. They’d say, “This is God’s word! Eternal, outlasting anything else.”

But I couldn’t see it. I wouldn’t. Because I was surrounded by very real pain, and inescapable heartache. And the words seemed like empty promises in the midst of problems that just weren’t ending.

Home was something close to hell on many a night. There would be yelling, shouting, words thrown like arrows, with nothing to shield our hearts. I wanted to run away from home because it never really felt like home, but I had nowhere to go. That’s when I would think about ending my life. God certainly felt very, very far during those nights.

I wouldn’t want to talk to Him the next morning, but I’d end up realising I needed Him. Needed His joy, needed hope, needed healing to carry on even to the next moment.

But I didn’t know how to find it. All I could feel was the pain from the quarrels, the words that had cut through my heart and made me bleed all night. All I could feel was the guilt of having done the same to my family. And the shame that I was a Christian who lived nothing like one.

And these cycles would repeat over and over and over. Till I had cried myself hoarse. Till I had harmed myself in every possible way. Till every last drop of hope I had for life had bled away.

I felt like a broken and shattered human from whom nothing good could emerge. I thought my relationship with my mom was beyond repair.

I thought Christianity was a lie. (Though I knew Jesus, I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t doing anything to save me. I felt like a hypocrite who believed one reality and lived out another.) I thought I deserved to die because I had become a violent, angry person filled with hate for her family, for herself, and even for God.

And I could tell you a nice sounding, Christianese-filled answer. But I hated that kind of thing when I was in pain, so I won’t.

All I know is, I met a man. He stayed with me in this pain. He wasn’t afraid of my anger, my violence. He wasn’t threatened by my overwhelming guilt. He did nothing to defend or shield himself from me. I threw mean words at him, I tried to hate him and curse him. But he still stayed. I asked him why he didn’t do anything about my pain. He didn’t always respond. Sometimes, he said, “Give me your pain. I’ll take it for you.” I didn’t always understand that. I would just cry more.

Sometimes, he’d whisper, “I know why you’re doing all this. I know that you’re dying on the inside, believing you’re a monster and that you will never be okay. I know you’re carrying a mountain-sized burden that’s crushing you every minute.”

“I know you’re not really a monster. You’re actually beautiful,” he’d say, and I’d rage all the more! “You don’t know me, I’m irredeemable.” “Nope. I know you. I already redeemed you.”

He stayed. He fought for me. He fought with me! When no one could understand my pain, or knew how to reach me. When no one could give me a helping hand or even just an answer. When no one wanted to hug me tight till all my pain subsided, He stayed by my side.

On one occasion, I was so broken and hurting because my mom was yelling at me, saying all kinds of things, and I couldn’t even shut out the noise. The more I cried, the more she would yell at me. And I remember just letting myself fall onto the sofa, even though it was cluttered with a hundred random things, and something was poking me as I sat on it. I just didn’t care. The pain on the inside was way too much. I remember longing for a mom who’d actually show me some care in that woebegone moment. And that’s when I felt this gentle touch on my back, like someone’s arm moving soothingly up and down. Just for a few seconds. I was jolted by the sensation and turned to see who it was. No one was around. But oh, he was. He was right there.

And that’s how he won me back. Bit by bit, healing one wound at a time. Extracting one poisoned arrow at a time. He told me, “You are not your behaviour. You are not what you do or say. You’re more than that.” “You are kind. You’re gentle. You’re a loving girl. You’re a beautiful daughter.”

I’d want to believe him but I just couldn’t. But he just wouldn’t stop. And slowly, I started to see it. The hurt that had built up so much in my heart that it had become hardened and black. I asked him for a new one, because this one was way past the point of saving. He gave me His own heart. And said, “Here. It’s brand new, it’s perfect. What’s mine is yours.”

Jesus Christ did all this and so much more for me. This is not a story. It’s my life. It’s what I’ve really lived through, day after day. If He did it for me, He’ll do it for you. Because I was the worst of the worst, a life that was all but gone. But the Word became the greatest promise of hope and poured out all that He was into me, and set me free to be me.

I thought I had empty hope, but Hope emptied himself into me and filled me with eternal hope. Now I live, because He lives. Only because He lives.

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