Anyone that’s worked at a restaurant knows what it’s like to count down the minutes to the end of a shift. It’s true, I’ve had some absolutely grueling last minutes in an office, but it just isn’t the same as those last few minutes of being on my feet, longing for a sip of cold water. A few weeks ago, the thing that was getting me through my third day with a 9-hour shift (measly compared to some, but a lot for me) and my third 12-hour work day (I keep thinking maybe I’ll only have 1 job soon…) was this soda my boss gave me for employee appreciation day. I don’t normally drink soda, but I was so excited about this soda. It wasn’t just any soda, it was a glass bottle of pineapple soda. (To those who somehow missed the memo, I love pineapple anything.)
The problem with this bottle of soda was that it had a lid requiring a bottle opener. Being at a restaurant with the most sober group of co-workers imaginable, we were unable to open our soda gifts during work (there was not a bottle opener anywhere). This made the build up for our sodas even more intense. Truly, all I thought about the last four or so hours of my shift was taking a sip of that nice, cold pineapple soda.
I got my hopes up for something amazing.
Then finally my shift ended. I drove home with my treasured soda nestled nicely in my cup holder. I got to my door and as I turned to unlock the notoriously stubborn deadbolt, the soda fell from my hands.
In an instant, my soda was in a million pieces on my front porch and my hopes of an after work treat were shattered.
I’d love to tell you I handled this like a mature adult, but that would be a lie. I stormed inside, took out my frustrations on my mom, cleaned up the glass, and pouted. Yes, pouted. Like a 4-year-old.
After a few tears, an apology, and more than a few pieces of chocolate, I started thinking about how often my hopes seem to end up like the pineapple soda on the front porch. Frankly, I felt hurt. Yes, it started with the ridiculous question, “Why God did you let me hope for that pineapple soda and take it away? Can I not just have one joy in life?” But it ended with about a thousand other “whys” about areas where my life doesn’t feel fair and hopes seem shattered.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post called Dare to Hope. I wrote about how inhibited I am by lack of hope. I imagine there were (and are) others that struggle with those same inhibitions. In that blog I mentioned that hope isn’t easy. Disappointments are truly what drive my inhibitions, my lack of hope. How many more shattered sodas can a girl take?!
In my flesh, I’m clearly unable to handle one shattered pineapple soda. (Exhibit A: My 27-year-old pouting.) In faith, I think the shattered hopes are often things that draw us to Jesus though. Those broken pieces are where His love often seems to shine the brightest, and our cold hearts are forced to feel the warmth of His comfort.
I don’t think shattered hopes were part of God’s original plan. I don’t think God designed the Garden of Eden to include heartbreak and tragedy. I do, however, think there are times when God uses hope–even hope that ends in disappointment–to draw us to Him.
What I love about hope is the mysterious, but beautiful truth found in Romans 5:3-5 (ESV):
3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Even in the midst of our sufferings and shattered dreams, God promises that hope will not put us to shame. Take time to clean up after the shattered sodas. But then keep hoping, friend!