Many years ago I had fostered a small dream of one day making a living composing music and being published. I worked up the courage to complete a song, record it and send it in to a nationwide songwriting contest and waited for my critique to return. I say worked up the courage because frankly sending anything out to be critiqued is a frightful prospect for me!
This particular year had been and would continue to be a very dark time for us personally. We struggled greatly, and God was consistently answering “no” to our urgent prayers. It was a season of darkness, and I struggled to find my footing.
The result of the contest was an honorable mention, and the offer of a contract. Unfortunately, at the time, I viewed it as a lost cause and that music writing was not for me. I had written some other things at this time, but felt dissatisfied because the songs were very strained and lacked hope. I decided that I wait to continue composing until I could be on the other side of the trial we were under.
Recently, I listened to someone recount a somewhat similar story. He had gone through a particularly dark time, and as a creative person he had told stories to his young children each night. He made up new adventures each night, and the kids begged for more. But during his night season, he couldn’t create anymore and harshly told his children that he didn’t have any more stories and don’t ask anymore. He has now found himself on the other side of his trial, and looks back with some regret but with the desire to redeem those moments now with his grandchildren.
It reminded me of my moment. I spent time contemplating this weekend, and realized that as I was working on a proposal for another project that I thought I still had the paperwork from this song. I pulled out the critique they had sent me way back then, and read through it again for the first time in nine years. And I cried. I cried because the words that should have encouraged me back then hadn’t. I read generous words of hope on those pages, that should have given me hope then, but in the midst of my circumstance I couldn’t hear them. I don’t even remember reading them. Ever. As I read them this weekend, it was as if it was the very first time I had heard them.
Do you have something in the past that caused you great pain? Was there hope offered to you in a time of trial, that maybe you missed because you were hurting too badly? Let that encourage you today friend, because you can continue encouraging someone else with the knowledge that maybe they can’t hear you today.
Keep telling them to keep their chin up.
Maybe they can’t receive hope yet, because the way seems too dim.
Keep offering hope anyway.
One day, in retrospect, the words may be a soothing balm or a sweet honeycomb that helps to encourage them in the future.
And friend, if you are the one hurting, keep grasping to the hope offered to you from friends and family, even if you need to hear it again and again. Eventually the words will settle in your heart and mind, when you get beyond your current suffering.
Press forward, without looking back, and keep your eye on the prize!