“Mr and Mrs Wall, it’s best you take a seat.” Those were the words of the specialist as we were directed into yet another consultation room. These hospital rooms and their interiors had become all too familiar to us over the past two years.
Three miscarriages, numerous doctors, and now it was as if we were waiting for the jury to render its final verdict. With a warm smile, but a firm tone, the specialist looked at us and said: “I am afraid you won’t be able to have children.” As she came to a pause, I waited for the more chipper second sentence. “But”, “although”, “however…” Perhaps a pregnant pause before the birth of some hope? Yet nothing followed her words. Simply silence. Such finality. Such hopelessness.
We always felt that we had been called to be parents. We had many prophetic words shared about us having children, and there was something deep on the inside of us that had the desire to keep praying for children, even when we had been told it was not a possibility. The feeling would not go away, and we felt a strong sense to be obedient in prayer, despite being uncertain of the outcome.
I now type this in yet another waiting room. But this time, it’s different. No consultation room, no specialists. Bernadette and I are not alone. We are here for the six-week checkup of our beautiful daughter Gracie-Hope Ocampo Wall. Several months after that announcement by the specialist in the hospital waiting room, Bernadette fell pregnant for a fourth time. This time it was different: no complications, no bad reports. Simply a promise fulfilled by a faithful God. A God who gave us the promise, but loved us enough to go through his process, so that when the promise arrived, we didn’t forget the promiser!
Hope not despair
I wonder whether like my wife Bernadette and I, you have found yourself needing some hope in the midst of a hopeless situation? A negative doctor’s report has left you with feelings of despair, or the painful rejection by a prodigal has caused you to doubt the power of prayer. Or the winds of challenge and change are blowing in your family, finances or threatening your future. It’s as if life sucks the joy out of your life, hope gives way and despair steps in.
If you have found yourself in that place of despair and hopelessness, can I encourage you, to hold on tight to these following four lifelines? They kept Bernadette and I, in the darkest of times, and I believe they can withstand any trial or hurdle of hopelessness in your life, whatever it is that you face.
H-old on, don’t Hang up! Jesus has been there. He is where you are now and he completely understands what you are going through. The profound truth is simply this: God understands our pain. If you ever wonder if God, the creator, can comprehend the difficulties and obstacles you are facing, Hebrews 4:15 can help. It says that Jesus is “able to understand our weaknesses”. The temptation in the midst of our trials is to project our circumstances onto the character of God, to hang up the phone, so to speak, on our daily conversation with him. In our darkest moments Bernadette and I tried to consistently keep our quiet time with the Lord, as well as a continuous flow of dialogue with him no matter how we felt.
O-vercome despair with prayer. The questions we ask determine the answers we receive. If Bernadette and I asked: “Is it an unequivocal medical impossibility for us to have children?” We would have fallen into a pit of despair. If like Sarah, however, we ask: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” We hold on to our hope. Prayer enables us to see things from the vantage point God sees them, and enables us to remain in a posture of expectation, even when our environment seems contrary to the promise for which we hope.
P – ersevere with the pearl of patience. In James 1 we read that the testing of our faith produces patience, so if the testing of my faith produces patience, it means that God tests my faith with time. Often, it's not how big I can believe, it's how long I can believe. Can I keep on believing when it seems like believing isn't working?
E-xpect God to exceed your expectations. I remember kneeling down in my study after hearing the doctors report and asking one of the toughest questions I’ve ever had to ask myself: “Would I still worship God if I never became a father?” Could I trust there would be a better yes, on the other side of his no? Would I surrender my deadline that I’d imposed on God and rather co-operate with his timeline, knowing he would weave his plans together for our good? It’s always a mistake to wrap our faith in God around the fulfilment of our dreams or even the answer to our prayers.
Whatever it is you are going through, you can hold onto these lifelines of hope. God knows. God sees. God cares. Hopeless seasons will come for sure, but when they do, filter them through those four lifelines of hope. And if you do, you’ll have the ability to face the facts that are around you, but have greater confidence in the God that is within you. A God whose promises never fail.
Rob Wall is founder of The Reach Ministries, an organisation with a passion to share hope and help lives. Rob currently broadcasts his preaching series ‘Hope Heals’ on networks across the world, including: TBN UK, Asia, Africa, Pacific, Middle East, and a variety of other television networks. Rob is a writer, pastor and speaker and is based in London with his wife Bernadette and daughter Gracie-Hope.