“Life cannot be sustained without hope. That is what is so remarkable and intriguing about this tiny word.
It has a mysterious and generous quality. We know hope when we have it and feel miserable when we don’t.”
My preschooler has suddenly—and repeatedly—added one word to his vocabulary: Monsters.
We have no idea how it happened. One night, we were tucking Oscar into bed and turning off the lights, when he panicked and blurted out in the darkness, “There’s a monster in my closet!” My husband and I gave each other the exact same look, Where in the world did he even pick that up?
Maybe it was at preschool or on a playdate, but thanks to one mention, one story, and one kid, my son is now convinced of the boogey man—and his fear is real. The alarm I see in his eyes is distressful and the fright I hear in his voice is unsettling, and my first response was shock, with an underlay of outrage.
“Oscar! No. There are no monsters, there is no such thing. There is nothing to fear. We are here, you are protected and you are safe.”
Unfortunately, this pep-talk did not dispel his fear. The very next day, we pulled into our dark garage, and Oscar whispered, “It’s scary in here.” And then later, when we were playing with trains, he pointed to a closet and said, “Monsters are in there.” And when the sun went down and bedtime rolled around, he pointed to a shadow in the corner and said, “It’s a monster, mama.”
I felt the same indignation rise up from the night before, and I shook my head so hard. “Oscar, that is just a shadow. There’s only clothes in the closet. The garage is just dark, not scary. We have nothing to fear. I am here, God is here. We are protected and we are safe.”
Later that night, as I was laying in my own bed and left alone to think, here was my own train of thought: “Oh Lord, this is just the beginning. I’m so scared of all the things my kids will pick up and experience and suffer through in this world… Which reminds me, that friend with the lump in her breast. I’m nervous she has cancer. Oh, and my annual scan is coming up—what if I have cancer?” As I thought about the future and a handful of worst-case scenarios, my spirit was suffocating with fear and I was desperate for comfort.
And then I realized the irony of it all.
Here I am, no different than my son, scared of the monsters lurking ahead. Yet I’m talking to the One who is more powerful than anything. He is above all, in control of all, and can do all things, and He sees the shadows, closets, and dark places that fill me with fear, and rightfully, He’s indignant. “Heidi, these monsters are nothing compared to my power. Don’t you see? That’s why I commanded you not to be afraid; there is nothing to fear. I am here. As my child, you are protected and you are safe.”
For a second (and for more times than I’d like to admit), I forgot about His identity, and therefore, I forgot mine.
There will be pain and suffering in this world. We will face brokenness, sickness, and heartache, and it will be mighty tempting to look at these monsters and be afraid. The enemy is moving in the midst of all this darkness, wanting nothing more than for us to do that very thing.
But as God’s people, we are given one sure promise that will stand against every fear and can chase away every monster: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
The One, who even the monsters and demons fear, is using the pain and tragedy they inflicted to bring about our good. We may see that as absolutely impossible today, but in the lives of His people, He always wins. In the meantime, He calls us to always have hope, to call out the monsters for what they are—nothing and powerless in the presence of our God—and rest in the identity that we are protected and safe as children of the Most High God.
What monsters are scaring you in your closet? Are you sick of it yet? Always waiting for the next shoe to drop? Dreading tomorrow because it might be hard and we don’t know if we can handle it? That’s miserable, and crippling. Life is too short, you guys. Every one of us has faced a monster and been paralyzed by one fear or another, but our blood pressure can only rise so high and our mind can only live in fight-or-flight mode for so long. God has a better way. It’s time we stare down the threats and the monsters lingering in our closet, and remember Who is bigger. It may be hard, we may be quivering, but the truth for God’s people is that He has plans for us and good is coming.
“Being hopeful means believing that God will act to bring about
good things in the future. What if they don’t come?
Does that mean that we will always feel let down?
No, it just means that we wait longer, because if we don’t,
then we may be forced to scrap hope altogether.
And that, for all of us, would feel disastrous.”