In Others’ Words: Looking for a “handout”

hope is faith in dark. Iles. 2015

In the Fellowship of the Ring, the first movie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy by Peter Jackson, the hobbit Bilbo Baggins describes how he feels to Gandalf the Gray Wizard this way:

I feel … thin. Sort of stretched, if you know what I mean. Like … butter scraped over too much bread. 

Thin. Stretched. Scraped. All perfect descriptors of life when hope is worn out. You’re leaning hard on your faith, wobbly that it is, and straining to see more … to see whatever cavalry you’re looking for to come riding into view.

I’ve been there, looking for a “handout,” hoping against disappointed hope that something — or someone — will change. Unable to see past the mess, the discouragement, the pain of the situation — but choosing to stand in faith. Not a “wish I may, wish I might” childish kind of belief based on wishing upon stars and waiting, waiting waiting … No. Faith isn’t about me and what I do or don’t do. My faith is firmly anchored to God and who he says he is — unchangeable (Hebrews 13:8 ESV)  and merciful (Hebrews 4:16 NASB) and one who listens to my prayers (1 John 5:14 NASB).

In Your Words: When has your hope felt thin … stretched … scraped? What helps you dare to have the faith to hold your hand out in the dark again, believing God is there?

With thinks to my writing friend (and walking buddy), Mary Agius, for sharing this quote with me.

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9 Comments

  1. susan
    February 27, 2015, 5:48 am   /  Reply

    This. This is perfect this morning. It echoes my prayer, Beth. And all that keeps me holding my hand out is knowing he’s God. Where else will my hand stretch to? But thin, stretched, scraped? Yes. I’m in a season where yes, that perfectly describes my hope and my faith. Yet still, He is God:)

    • February 27, 2015, 8:30 am   /  Reply

      Susan:
      Well, then this post is for you. I woke up at 2 AM and one of the things I realize was that I’d forgotten to finish this blog post. So I polished it and posted it and hoped someone … someones … would be encouraged.
      And you are. And I am thankful. But I also prayed speciically for you just now — for hope to be fulfilled.

  2. February 27, 2015, 6:42 am   /  Reply

    I’m amazed to look back to see how many times God has “kept me” when I had no power to do so. A year ago w/ one pacemaker lead wire snapped and dangling inside, He kept me again. That helps give a real sense of purpose and expectation to every day–very thankful.

    • February 27, 2015, 8:31 am   /  Reply

      You know, Dee, I just realized two words that describe how you lived life: with expectation. And that could be distilled down to “hopeful.”

  3. February 27, 2015, 8:10 am   /  Reply

    There have been many times where I have felt thin, stretched, scraped. One of the more recent times was last fall, when we went through a very difficult season with one of our boys. Feeling completely ill-equipped for dealing with all he was going through and loving well through it. I was weary. Scraped raw. God reminded me He’s with me, giving me what I need for each moment. Filling my lungs with each breath. Me holding my hand out with weary hope, and Him filling it with Himself. What more do I need after that?

    • February 27, 2015, 8:32 am   /  Reply

      God does remind us of his presence and provision … if we listen.
      And sometimes the reminder is delivered via friends and family who take the time to pray for us, pray with us … and it makes all the difference.

  4. February 27, 2015, 10:04 am   /  Reply

    Well, for the moment the new internet connection seems to be working…

    I guess I see things differently, and maybe I’m dead wrong, but I am not stretched thin, or anything like that. The past few weeks have been horrible. Too bad. I will beat everything they can throw at me.

    They say that an Irishman is amicable until he loses his temper, and then, watch out. True for Chinese, too.

    I am stronger than ever, and it is MY hand that I offer to God, if He wants to rest a spell.

    Running Creation must be exhausting. So He can pull in, and take some shelter behind my back.

    Take five, God. I got this.

  5. February 27, 2015, 6:45 pm   /  Reply

    Indeed! Wise perspective my friend!

    For me, hope is an ongoing struggle. What helps is when I consider that hope in God comes from trusting Him, and trusting Him comes from knowing Him, and knowing Him comes from being in the Word, in prayer and in fellowship with other believers. When I cling to Him, I have the most hope.

  6. February 27, 2015, 6:51 pm   /  Reply

    Great thoughts again today, Beth. But should we expect less? I think not. 🙂

    My “thin” moments these past several years have all revolved around my dream of becoming a wife not yet happening. After clinging to hope and dreams every day, year after year, doubts can creep in. At first they arrive in the shadows, hovering around the periphery of everyday life. Soon, though, they take braver steps, prancing closer but darting away when I toss them a confident, hope-filled glance. After not being hurt by me, they gain better footing and charge into the forefront, daring me to pull my hope out and wave it in their face. But when I try to pull it out of my pocket, I discover a small hole in the bottom corner. My hope has slipped away. Only a single thread remains, snagged on a piece of lint. It’s at that moment of deep despair, when I can’t see anything but doubt gremlins around me, that I fall to my knees, take up that loose thread, and pray to God with more desperation than I’d like to admit. Prayers, quiet time, and lots of tears later, my heart is filled to overflowing with more hope, and I’m ready to face whatever may come, whether thick or thin. And I always come out of those sessions with praises on my lips for God’s amazing grace and incredible patience. He loves me way more than I deserve. As He does each person who’s reading this right now.

    Blessings and hugs,
    Andrea

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