Fan the Flames

I’m not a fan of futility. I’ve noticed it’s about the biggest oppressor of my spirit. I don’t mind hardship so much if it yields something good. But if trouble is all for nothing—if there are no improved conditions, if all is futile—then the flames of my hope, ambition, purpose, and joy are reduced to smoldering embers.

In Romans 8:20, it says: For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

The NIV version uses the word “frustration” instead of “futility.” That doesn’t sound any better. And I’m curious about the phrase, “because of him who subjected it.” It implies God may be the one responsible for frustrating us. Why would he do that? And if not him, why would he allow it? Can anything good come out of futility?

I think it can. The snuffing does something unique to the embers of a spirit. When we get a chance to live again, to be a fire again in an open space with pure air, it’s a bigger and better fire than it ever was before.

But we don’t know that when we’re being smothered. When we’re forced to endure prolonged hardships or injustice, our choked spirits fade. If it’s bad enough, for long enough, we get desperate for something to change. Death can even look appealing, comparatively better than unending agony.

“Just douse me with water already, and let it be over with. Kill off this struggling spirit if nothing is ever going to change. Or relieve me of frustration and bring these fading embers to a full flame. SOMETHING other than this futility.”

If that’s you, I pray you’re soon relieved of the dampening, snuffing and futility. May the oppressive blanket smothering your fading hope be removed, and fresh air breathed onto the embers of your spirit. May your soul be rekindled and grow at the perfect pace, even hidden when needed to avoid another snuffing. Ultimately, may your fire be ignited to full, bounding flames of purposefulness, ambition, joy, gratitude, righteousness, hope, faith, and love.

If you are fading right now, don’t worry about the “why”, “when”, or “how”. Just get through today. Do that again tomorrow. One day you’ll look back and marvel—somehow the fire that leapt from your futile conditions is grander and more meaningful than if your spirit had never been suppressed and dampened at all.


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