courageous HOPE

Raw. Vividly described.  Heart-wrenching ache.  Crushing burdens.  Wave after wave of a whole new level of “hard.”  Hers is a reality I honestly cannot say I have ever experienced.  I took in page after page in solemn stillness.  I wanted to honor her pain with attentiveness.  A genuine search for understanding.  To simply listen and really hear.  To pay attention and really see.

In her book, Glorious Weakness, Alia Joy bravely describes the many difficult trials she has navigated in her life.  A path few of us are ever called to walk.

With passion and vulnerability, she details her unexaggerated, harsh reality, devastating hardships on so many levels: physical, mental, financial, emotional, and spiritual.  She sheds tragically needed light on the additional pain of being unseen, ignored, misjudged, neglected – by the very ones she hoped would notice her deep struggles and offer any help they could, even just to be present in her pain.

With honesty laid bare, she shares her struggle to understand and trust GOD in the depths of her darkness.  Her outright rebellion against Him, and the miraculous ways He reached her right where she was to draw her heart to His.  The ways He used His Word to disarm her darkness, and His Spirit to place the desire in her to read and receive it.

Many of her struggles, Alia carries with her still.  Decades running.  It is unthinkable to imagine the depths of her felt weakness.  Yet she boldly claims HOPE in the LORD!  He has given her different eyes with which to view the gaping lack that characterizes her life.  Her heart has been drawn to surrender the most painful places, to see them as caverns the LORD’s presence is welcomed to fill.  She now sees weakness as a precious gift, where He can meet her uniquely and intimately and give her priceless glimpses of His glory, a sacredness far beyond herself.

Alia’s words remind me of many of the Psalms.  Raw honesty.  Desperate agony.  Bold questions.  Unfulfilled longing.  And yet… in the midst of unresolved trials, a determined choice to believe!  To hope in GOD.  To trust in His unfailing love.  These words of wrestling yet choosing hope could have been her own:

“O LORD GOD of my salvation, I cry out to you by day.  I come to you at night.  Hear my prayer; listen to my cry.  For my life is full of troubles.  I am forgotten.  I am in a trap with no way of escape.  My eyes are blinded by my tears.  Each day I beg for Your help, O LORD; I lift my hands to You for mercy.  Can the darkness speak of Your wonderful deeds?  I have been sick and close to death since my youth.  I stand helpless and desperate before You.  Terror has paralyzed me.  It swirls around me like floodwaters all day long.  Darkness is my closest friend.”  Psalm 88

“For You have been my hope, Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth.  I will ever praise You.  I will always hope.  I will yet praise You more and more.”  Psalm 71:5-6, 14

 “Listen to my words, LORD, consider my lament.  Hear my cry for help, my King and my GOD, for to You I pray.  In the morning, LORD, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly.”  Psalm 5:1-3

 “Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You.  Show me the way I should go, for to You I entrust my life.”  Psalm 143:8

 “I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my GOD.”  Psalm 42:5

.   .   .

As one of my favorite podcaster’s described it, Alia’s book “wrecked me.”  I have struggled to process it all.

Do I recognize the needs all around me?  Do I take time to look and really see beyond someone’s brave exterior?  To pick up on cues that they are desperately longing for someone to notice?  Am I willing to respond to nudges from GOD’s Spirit to reach out in any way that I can?

When I face my own struggles, when I am paralyzed by my own fears, do I dare to believe He is still there?  That He is who He says He is?  That He will meet me in those hard places?  That His Word will give me fresh hope, exactly how and exactly when I need it?  That with His help, I can always take one more step, face one more day, endure what seems unthinkable?

Can I learn from Alia how to look for ways the darkness shows me the LORD’s wondrous works?  Have eyes to see His glory revealed through my weakness?  Determine to choose courageous hope, even when a difficult path remains unaltered?  Am I willing to let the tender touch of My Savior, the very presence of His person, to steady my heart and heal my pain?

I lay it all before the LORD.  He simply whispers, “keep your eyes on Me… I will help show you how…”

Alia closes with these words as she bears witness to the redeeming power of GOD’s unfailing love, her every reason to HOPE:

“We keep company with sadness.  We learn the lament of everyone who holds quietly to the knowing: things are not as they should be.  And still we hope.  Still we see our Redeemer come.  We speak in a dialect of our kin, our native tongue.  We are fluent in the language of hope.  We bear witness to the goodness of GOD in the most unlikely places.  He is our all in all – we know this from the desperate spaces when we had nothing else.  No other route, no calmer sea, no other choice but surrender.  And that is a gift.  That is our glorious weakness.” (p.222)

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If you long for courage to believe in the One who offers hope and healing, Alia Joy’s story may help you discover a precious new reality in trusting JESUS.  Look for Glorious Weakness, published by Baker Books, wherever books are sold.

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