May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. -Romans 15:13
On Friday night I found myself sitting across the table from two ladies from my church who I admire as wise women of faith. It was the monthly coffee gathering for the women in our church and I had claimed an empty seat at a local restaurant eager for an evening of conversation and connection. As conversations ebbed and flowed around us one of the ladies looked me straight in the eye and asked, “So Sarah, what kinds of things have you been thinking about recently.” And it all came flooding out. I shared of my struggles over the past 18 months or so. I shared of feeling like I had lost my identity and was trying to find it again. I shared of feeling like I wasn’t enough for God, like I had failed him in some way. I shared of my struggle to believe in God’s love for me.
As I talked part of me wondered what these women would say. Would they tell me to buck up? Would they tell me to pray more or have more faith or read my Bible more? Would they tell me that I needed to find new ways to serve God?
Both of these women looked deep in my eyes, straight down to my soul, and said “Me too.”
Both of these women looked deep in my eyes, saw my heart, and said, “You are so loved by God.”
They shared with me their own struggles and doubts. They were honest with me about their own questions. Turns out we have been reading many of the same things (Ann Voskamp for the win!) and so we talked about our own 1000 gifts lists.
I asked, “But is it okay for me to just want two children?” And the wise woman with 7 children said, “Yes! Of course!”
The other woman, a counselor by profession, who I know has walked through many dark valleys of her own said, “Sarah, you are a deep thinker. I see God using the life you have lived and the way you think about things. I see how he uses those things in our church body and in your parenting. ”
For some reason these simple words, at this time, were incredibly freeing. I felt a great weight lift and as our conversation continued I felt joy and hope returning. I was so thankful for these women who listened, who shared honestly yet hopefully, who encouraged. That is what the Body of Christ is for. That is why we weren’t meant to follow him on our own.
On Sunday after church one of the women came up to me and told me that as she was praying she was led to Romans 15:13. She showed me in her Bible how she had circled the verse and wrote my name next to it. She told me that she would be praying the verse for me, inserting my name into it:
May the God of hope fill Sarah with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit Sarah may abound in hope. -Romans 15:13
What a privilege to be prayed for in that way! What a way for God to show me he loves me!