Archive for July, 2011

Dare to Hope?

Posted: July 19, 2011 by clairer in Hope

“Mrs. Lynde says, ‘Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.’ But I think it would be worse to expect nothing than to be disappointed.” — Anne from Anne of Green Gables

When it comes to hoping, are you a Mrs. Lynde — careful and guarded from disappointment — or are you an Anne — fully enjoying the expectation but leaving yourself vulnerable? Has there ever been something you really wanted, but you didn’t let yourself think about it or “get your hopes up” in order to shield yourself from an unfavorable outcome?

I know that in my life, I tend to ascribe to Mrs. Lynde’s philosophy. Often, I’m afraid to let myself hope — to let myself think that things might just turn out the way I’d love for them to — because I’m afraid of the hurt that I will feel if things don’t turn out. Hoping for the best can lead to experiencing the worst, in terms of hurt and disappointment.

That’s why I was surprised when I stumbled upon a verse in my morning devotions. Romans 5:5 says, “…And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”

Wait a second…hope doesn’t disappoint? Isn’t that backwards? Didn’t the Bible mean to say “Low expectations don’t disappoint?” How can the Bible encourage us to hope?

The Bible can say that hope doesn’t disappoint because God doesn’t disappoint. The key is, what are we hoping in? The Bible isn’t telling us that dreams won’t disappoint, or wishful thinking won’t disappoint, or that everything we hope for will happen. What it is saying is that when our hope is in the right place — when our trust and security is found in God and His promises — we don’t need to be afraid that God won’t come through for us.

God doesn’t want us to go through life blind and cold to the possibilities He has provided. That excitement and sense of expectancy are part of how God made us! The feeling of anticipation is a gift from God meant to be enjoyed. The key is not to base your hope in the thing desired but in God. If that object of joy is taken away, can you still delight in the good plan of God? If tragedy strikes, can you still rejoice in a faithful and ever-present God?

It’s when you can do these things, when you can say “Whatever my lot, you have taught me to say, it is well with my soul,” that you know your hope is rooted in the right place. When our hope is in the Lord, we can dare to hope and never fear disappointment.

The Gift of the Present

Posted: July 16, 2011 by clairer in Contentment, Joy

“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12

I’m a planner. I like thinking about my future: things that I want to do in my next semester at college, where I will be a year from now, and what my long-term future will hold. I like having my life scheduled out. My daily planner is full of multi-colored notes on what I’ll do each day and I enjoy making, remaking, and rearranging spreadsheets with my possible course sequence for my next few years of college.

But is there a problem with this? Isn’t planning ahead a good thing? Well, yes and no. The problem surfaces when I spend so much time contemplating the future and planning my life that I forget to throw myself whole-heartedly into the present — when I forget to treasure the conversations I’m having, the activities I’m participating in, or the time I’m spending with family and friends now in anticipation of things coming up in the months and years ahead. It’s an issue of contentment.

God has given us the circumstances, challenges, joys, and trials of each and every day of our lives. He has put these circumstances in our lives to help us to grow. Romans 5:3-5 says, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 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.” Our challenges in life produce endurance, character, and hope. Our challenges should not be wished away or overlooked in anticipation of the future, but should be embraced as ways for us to learn and grow.

If we spend time and attention planning and contemplating our futures, we are distracted from the present circumstances God has placed around us. If we are distracted from those circumstances, we will not be investing as thoroughly in the friends surrounding us, or embracing the opportunities available to us, or discerning lessons we should be learning.

Not only will we be missing opportunities currently available in our lives by constantly planning ahead, but we will also be investing in something we have no guarantee of. Whether or not we want to think about it, we have no guarantee of tomorrow. The only thing we can be sure to experience is the present. Jesus warns about this in a parable:

The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him,’Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be? (Luke 12:16-20)

While I have much to learn about walking this out in my own life, I’m seeing that it is important to invest in what I have right now: the present. There is much value in planning and preparing for the future, but I shouldn’t forget to be content with (and enjoy!) where God has placed me currently.