Hope: An expectation of obtainment. To expect with confidence.
I hope that I get that promotion. I hope that my children don’t get hurt. I hope that I find an amazing man to marry.
Everybody hopes in something. For something. It’s as natural as breathing.
I (Cindy) hoped that one day I’d find my knight in shining armor. I didn’t know when he’d arrive on my doorstep, so while I waited for him, I made a list of things that I desired to find in my future husband. Tall. Musical. Loves Jesus. Sensitive. Funny. Respectable. Admirable. Honest. Trusting. Protecting. Handsome.
I hoped for a lot.
Finally, he found me. And I found him. We were smitten with each other from our very first date. Apparently, he liked me so much that, unbeknownst to me, he put a down payment on my wedding ring the next day. And 10 months later, I got a new last name.
American author Catherine Marshall said, “God is the only one who can make the valley of trouble a door of hope.” I had no idea how applicable this quote would be in my life one day. But nine years into our marriage, everything crumbled. Actually, it crumbled before that. I just didn’t know it. I’d come to find out that for a period of about two and a half years, my pastor-husband, Chris, acted out on his very sordid addiction to pornography and committed multiple acts of infidelity, including a pregnancy from one of the women. The day he confessed all of this to me was the worst day of my life. I came to realize that it was just the first of many worse days in my life.
My marriage died. So did my hope.
Those of us who have been given the privilege of pastoring get to do what very few people get to do. I (Chris) was given the opportunity to provide leadership, care, direction, correction, teaching and compassion to God’s church and His people. What an honor and a privilege this was for me.
Pastors are human, though. We sin just like everyone else. Our pastoral profession does not exempt us from the struggles the rest of humanity faces.
What if we wake up one day living in a world of sin? What if our private lives bear little resemblance to the sermons we preach or the counsel we give? What if, in the absence of accountability, we have allowed pornography and sexual sin to take root in our lives? Due to the fear of losing our jobs, we find ourselves with no other option but trying to manage the sin and attempting to overcome it on our own power.
That was my life.
In addition to the very real fear of losing my family, I battled those exact fears, which kept me from confessing the bondage I was in. These fears kept my healing at bay. I had struggled with pornography since I was 8 years old. And contrary to what many believe to be true, it only got worse when I got married. When I stepped into my first vocational pastoral position, I struggled even more.
After serving on two different church staff teams over a period of many years, I took a position with Craig Groeschel at LifeChurch.tv in 2002. By this time I had allowed my pornography addiction to get completely out of control, to the point that I had physically acted out and had been unfaithful to my wife multiple times in the previous city where we lived and ministered. I was sure that moving to a new city and working in a new church was a way to have a “do-over” and avoid having to expose my sin.
But God had other plans.
During one staff meeting six weeks into my job at Lifechurch.tv, Craig shared about being “the real deal.” He challenged us that if we were dealing with some sin issues in our lives, we should confess it to our supervisor and we would find grace. God completely broke me that day, and I confessed everything to my wife, my family and Craig. I had been unfaithful and dishonest, and because of that, I resigned my position on staff at LifeChurch.tv.
I knew ministry was over for me, and I was completely fine with that. Next to being restored in my relationship with Christ, I wanted to stay married to Cindy and keep my family intact. I had no idea if that would be possible. Or if she would even want that.
I (Cindy) had already allowed my mind to go down the single-mother path. I didn’t want to be divorced or raise my young son alone, but the alternative—staying married to a man who’d absolutely destroyed my heart—was something I was just not sure I could do.
I begged God to heal my devastated heart, desperate for my pain to subside even just for a few moments. Although a huge part of me wanted to just cut my losses and hit the road, there was still this inner voice that kept asking, “What does God want you to do?”
For several days I beseeched God, asking Him to give me a word to stand on. I knew then, even in the pit of my despair, that I needed to be grounded in whatever decision I made because to weather the obvious storms that would come my way, I would need the only thing that could withstand the tumultuous winds: the Word of God.
He spoke to me through a very unlikely, minor prophet named Habakkuk:
“For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay” (Hab. 2:3, NIV).
That verse may not mean anything to you, but it means the world to me. It’s the very word I needed from God as I was contemplating my future. After this word was confirmed to me by two individuals on the same day, I heard God whisper this hope to my heart: My child, I know you don’t understand what I am asking of you. I know you don’t think anything good can come from this situation. But I need to you trust Me. And one day, you will see all that I am doing and how I am working this for your good and My glory.
So I stayed. And although His peace fell upon me as soon as I proclaimed my trust in Him, the pain and heartache took their own sweet time to diminish. Thankfully, God was ever-present. On the days when I could barely lift my head from the pillow, He gave me strength. When the images came flooding into my mind, He gave me peace. When the pain bombarded me and suffocated me like a blanket in 100-degree weather, He comforted me. Had I never needed comfort, I would not have known the Comforter.
He will provide the same for you. Strength. Peace. Comfort. Hope.
Now, I can’t promise that He will remove the storms from your life. I can’t promise that you’ll have a comfortable, pain-free existence on this earth. I can’t promise that you’ll get everything you want and dream for.
What I can promise is that when you are weak, He’ll be strong. When you think you can’t take another step, He’ll carry you. When you are in despair, He’ll be your hope. We find these truths in Isaiah 40:30-31:
“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
Hope in the Lord. Even if you think your situation is beyond repair, please believe this truth: Our God is the God of the impossible. Nothing is too difficult for Him.
Hope in the Lord.
Today, Chris and Cindy Beall speak openly about their difficult journey that nearly destroyed their marriage and ministry in 2002. Through God’s grace, they have inspired thousands of couples and have returned to full-time ministry. Chris returned to LifeChurch.tv as the Oklahoma City campus pastor. Cindy’s first book, Healing Your Marriage When Trust Is Broken (Harvest House), released in 2011. The Bealls recently celebrated their 20 years together on an anniversary trip to New York City. For more on their story and the healing that has taken place in both Chris and Cindy, go to Cindy’s blog and website, cindybeall.com.