I was fifteen when I first went to Cambodia on a missions trip, and my life flipped upside down in the way I’d always hoped for. I stood in the dust of the slums, kids danced around, chasing bubbles with innocent joy. I was eager to go back the next year, and felt the go-ahead from God, too.

Yet plans fell through. There weren’t enough of us to go. My second trip was cancelled. Optimistic and bubbly, I just figured the whole situation was the will of God. I was supposed to go back to Cambodia, but got the timing wrong, right? I had a fun summer leading a kids camp at home in Hawaii. I looked forward to my next opportunity to go to Cambodia, and everything was fine.

Disappointed? No, not at all. I couldn’t claim that feeling for myself, not at sixteen. I didn’t have a list of ex-boyfriends, I got good grades, and came from a good family. I had no idea what it felt like to experience heartbreak, anxiety, or abuse. But it was the first time in my life I completely hoped for somethingwith full confidence in God’s willand it didn’t happen. I pretended I was fine, and carried on. Yet however small the situation was, I couldn’t escape its effect on my faith.

Suddenly hope was a freaky thing. Disappointment was temporary, I knew that. But it still hurt. It became much easier to not to ask for things I wanted. Sure, I asked God for guidanceI wanted to know where I should go to college or even if I could move to Cambodia. But I didn’t ask Him for much more than that. I connected with Jesus’ words: “Until now you have asked nothing in my name.” Expecting nothing sounded like a good, thankful thing. Then I read on:

“Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” -John 16:23-24 (ESV)

Could it be that we’re missing out on something if we don’t ask? Could it be true that if we camp out in “thankfulness” we’re only getting part-joy? We do get wildly blessed and God moves in so many ways without us asking for it. But Jesus says it himself—if you don’t learn to ask Him for anything, you won’t have full joy—only a piece of it. 

Can I go back to Cambodia? I loved leading the kids camp back home, but something was missing. Still raw from disappointment, and a little bit freaked out by hope, I finally asked God for something more. A year later, I was dancing in the slums and chasing bubbles with giggling kids in Cambodia. Unlike my first trip, where I asked for nothing, this one was an answer to prayer. That turned it from part joy, to full

So, don’t live in a world of expecting nothing. I did that for too long. Face your disappointment, however small.  Look it square in the face, and let it know it’s only temporary. 

Hope again. 

Hope enough to ask

Photos: A season of learning to hope again. Amsterdam, Netherlands. 2015.

Thu, 26 Apr 2018 12:00:00 GMT