Tag Archive: Non-Fiction


I’ve been thinking about those big questions. “How can I have faith, pray and believe that what I’ve prayed for will happen? If it doesn’t happen, how can I still be encouraged?” As usual, when I ask questions, I end up asking more questions about those questions. I know that no one else does that, but I’m special. I realized that I was just chasing my tail, asking question after question without going to the source of all knowledge.

That’s right. I asked God, yes, I asked God through prayer and prayer and, you guessed it, prayer. I asked for wisdom. You can do that, you know? “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5) I don’t know about you, but I think that’s very cool. Think about it. Did you think? Here’s God, the Creator of Everything, who knows Everything, telling us that we can ask for knowledge about anything, and He’ll give it to us without calling us, “stupid.” Awesome. However, if you ask for wisdom then you better believe that you’ve received it. (James 1:– 7) Otherwise, what was the point in asking?

It’s about Love. Yep, love. If you’ve ever been to a wedding, seen one on television or in a movie then it’s possible that this might sound familiar to you:

Love

(1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)

“This doesn’t tell me anything,” you might be saying to yourself. Except that God is love (1 John 4:8). Therefore, everywhere in the paragraph above, change the word, “love” to “God” and presto-chango! A significant characteristic of God is revealed. Let’s look at this, “Love never fails.” Well, if Love never fails then God never fails. Right? While so many people focus in on the beauty of the passage, and I do agree that this definition of love is extraordinary and reveals a key characteristic of God; this is what sticks out to me in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” Do you see hope and faith in there? I do.

Here we are with faith, hope and love. We’ve been focusing in on hope and why it appears to fail. A conclusion was formed that one reason why it fails is because the hope is in the “thing” being hoped for and not in God. I’m sticking with that as part of the answer, but the idea that it’s idol worship is nonsense to me. It occurred to me to take a look at my role in faith, hope and love.

We know how faith is defined in the Bible. Who, or what is faith dependent on? Is it dependent on God? No, it’s dependent on the one who “has” the faith. It’s dependent on a person. My faith is dependent on me. Well, if faith is dependent on me then faith can fail, right? I fail all the time. I’m not going to get into why faith fails right now, nor am I going to go into how we get faith. Let’s just agree that it’s based on humans who can fail.

What about hope? We’ve examined hope  enough already to state that hope is different than faith, because it’s based on what we want to happen. While faith is based on what I believe is going to happen has already happened. I just might not have seen it yet. However, like faith, hope is dependent on me. Since I fail all the time, then my hope can fail. Therefore, as we’ve observed, faith and hope can fail because they are based on me. A fallible human. Let’s look at love.

Love is God. God is Love. What is love based on? God. What do we know about God? He never fails. Therefore, if God never fails then the hope that doesn’t come to pass isn’t because God failed. That’s important.

When my hopes don’t come to pass I can become discouraged, depressed and disappointed. Hopefully, there it is again, my attitude isn’t toward God. It might be, but I’m thankful that mine isn’t. My faith tells me that God cannot fail, and I believe that He cannot fail. Which means, logically, that the issue must be with me, right? Well, maybe.

What do you mean, “maybe?” Are you saying that the issue is with God? No, I’m not saying that. Well, not really. You see, there are a few things about God that we have to know, realize and accept.

  1. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
  2. We do not have the capability to comprehend God or His ways. (Romans 11:33) (Psalm 139:6) , Ecclesiastes 3:11
  3. God is infinite and all knowing.
  4. God’s timing is perfect and not based on our timing. (Psalm 27:14)

In short, we’re never going to figure God out. It’s impossible. That doesn’t mean that we can’t ask Him why something that we hoped for and, in faith, prayed for and believed, didn’t come to pass.

So, I did just that, I asked God, “why?” and He, in His love and mercy, told me. That, however, along with other reasons why our hopes and faith appear to fail, is for next time.

We hear it all the time. Don’t give up hope! I have hope. They have hope. We have hope. Everyone seems to have hope. Hopefully, you’re not too far gone that you don’t have hope. I believe that hope is part of being a human being. Whether or not you acknowledge the hope inside you, it’s there. It’s how you were built. How you were raised. You wouldn’t be here, today, if you didn’t have hope. This paragraph is just overflowing with “hope.”

I asked myself, the other day, “What is hope? Why do I allow myself to get so shaken up when something I’ve hoped for doesn’t come to pass?” It’s very discouraging when hope, like sand, in my hands, falls through my fingers and disappears. I looked it up, hope. I like the first definition, “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.” It comes across as very hopeful but not particularly useful on its own. Hope is an action, so let’s look at this, “to believe, desire, or trust.”  Now, we’re getting somewhere.

Hope is trusting that what we believe or want to happen will happen. I think that is a fair definition of hope to answer the question I posed to myself, “What is hope?” However, what about that crushing disappointment? The discouragement that can be so overwhelming? I’m glad you asked. There are other issues. There’s the issue of trust and belief. Those should be capitalized. Trust and Belief. I mean, really, if Hope is defendant on such words, and I’m wanting to know why I respond to lost hope with such discouragement, then I’m going to capitalize those words. They hold weight.

I’m going to look at Belief first.  Although, you’d might expect me to address Trust first, since that’s the way I wrote it. However, I am full of surprises. Boo. I like the third definition here: belief: “confidence; faith; trust.” Wow, those are some big ideas. Interesting that the definition we decided on for hope, yes I dropped the capital, “H”, includes, “Trust.” Well, I don’t know about you, but I need to take a look at trust and what it means. Trust: “confident expectation of something; hope.” Anyone else feel like we’re going in circles here? One huge tautology. Let’s recap sports fans. Hope is trust and belief. Belief is trust and faith. Trust is hope. I’m not even going to look up “confidence”, which you thought I was going to leave out, because I know it’s going to point to trust and belief.

Where are we now? Faith. Faith should be easy. Everyone has faith. I have to look it up. Just like in that horror movie; I have to go find out what made that sound by myself. How about that? “Confidence or trust in a person or thing.” Well, that says something that I can use. I’m not a math guy, but there’s something called the “transitive property” that might apply here. Let’s jump and not check to see if I’m wearing my chute. Faith is hope, belief and trust in a person or thing. That makes sense. I told you that we all have faith. You go to bed, each night, with the faith that you’ll wake up the next day. You get on that plane, whether you like to fly or not, with faith, that everyone has done their jobs and the plane is not going to crash. If you have a job, then you have faith that you’re going to get paid for the work that you do. We are just jam packed and full of faith. Aren’t we special?

I have this foundation of hope based on trust, belief and faith in a person or thing. There’s just one problem though, don’t I wish? I’m a Christian, and my faith is in God. He never fails. He cannot fail. He cannot lie. He is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow. Therefore, if I place my hope in God then why am I so discouraged when hope fails? Ah, let’s take a step back. My faith is in God. Isn’t my hope? Of course it is, isn’t it?

Let’s take a closer look at faith. It’s a “trust in a person or thing” according to that dictionary. God is a being, a person, that I place my faith, hope and trust in. Something is missing. What does the Bible say about faith? The book of Hebrews has this to say about faith. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1 NIV). Not much of a difference, really, between the Bible and that dictionary. Perhaps the issue isn’t faith then? Is it trust? No, my trust is in God. Isn’t it?

Well, what if my trust, according to that dictionary, is in receiving the thing in which I hope? Aha! Isn’t that faith? Aren’t I excising my faith, my hope and my trust in God when I pray and believe that what I have prayed for, according to the will of God, will come to pass? “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:14 NIV) the Bible tells me. I believe it. That’s just one passage that tells me that what I ask for in prayer will be done. Here are others: Prayer.

It’s that “thing” though, isn’t it? Somehow, I have transferred my trust, faith and hope in God, to the “thing” to which I am praying. That’s not good. That sounds like idol worship.

No, it sounds like I’m human. I make mistakes, but I can learn. There’s hope. I can learn. My question now becomes, “How can I have faith, pray and believe that what I’ve prayed for will happen? If it doesn’t happen, how can I still be encouraged?” Those are big questions. I don’t know if they are the right questions, but they are big. Questions that are relying upon, hope. It looks like we’re back to where we started.

Thank God for His love. Hmmm. Perhaps, there’s something in that?

 

 

It’s funny how often people will ask, “What’s your first memory?” We ask each other, we’re asked by teachers, friends, films and media. We search for the beginning of our lives. What do we remember first? It’s posed as challenge. How good is your memory? If you remember far enough back you must be smart, or something. I apologize if your first memory was like mine. I’m sorry for your pain. The loss that you carry with you every day. I know the loss. I know the pain. I carried it with me for 29 years.

What’s harder is dealing with that memory. Trying to share it with others. Dealing with the shame when we keep it to ourselves. And when we share it, the eyes that turn away from us. From the brutal honesty that this life is hard. That, somehow, you were tainted from the beginning. From your first memory. People don’t like the truth because it shines a light on their hidden past. On things that they don’t want to remember, and that makes it harder. The shame, feeling “unclean” and not worthy. Friends may turn their backs. People may label you. You think how wrong it was to share. If you’re like me, you didn’t tell anyone for a long time. When you did tell someone, perhaps they tried to help. Perhaps they medicated you to help with the depression. The pain. The loss. The what if’s. Their intentions were good. Some healing may have taken place. The first person I told loved me. She did her best to help me and it helped. I talked about it more and it helped. There was some healing.

The healing lead to sharing with those who would ask, “What’s your first memory?” When I was studying abroad in Paris, the instructor assigned us a paper. Write about your first memory. I did. I poured it out onto the handwritten pages. Each page covered with wrinkles from the tears that fell as I wrote of that first memory. As I wrote of the memories that followed the first. I got an A, impressed the heck out of my instructor and was encouraged to share my paper. My “authentic” paper, as the instructor spoke of it, with the other students. There were some tears, gasps, shocked looks, pity and scorn. As I have mentioned, people have a hard time with truth. It reveals their own truth hidden in their hearts to their minds and they have to deal with it. Or not. I didn’t make any friends that day. Truth is scary and when someone speaks it, people, whether they have compassion at that moment when they hear it, or if they pity or have scorn, will run from it. We all have hidden truths in our hearts that we don’t want to face. We don’t want the light on that truth. Whether are lives seem perfect or our lives, like mine, overflowed with depression and despair. It’s easier to live with the truth hidden away. Out of sight and out of mind. Right?

It’s comfortable, the hidden truth. Whatever it is. No one knows. The thing is though, you know and only you know. How can you help yourself when you won’t acknowledge the truth to yourself? Not the truth of whatever it is that is hidden in your heart. The truth that you cannot deal with it on your own.

Now some people, they embrace the pain. They embrace that truth and speak it to everyone. It becomes their badge and their identity. They wear it proudly. They think that they are healed because they have embraced the truth. The truth, however, of that first memory and those that followed isn’t who you are. Whether, like me, you held onto it for so long and kept it neatly tucked in a heart of pain, or, if like others, you wear that pain on the outside. You are still bound by that memory. You lived it once. Why continue to live it day after day?

I was 29 years old when my grandfather died, and I had this childhood memory of my grandmother, standing above me, telling me about something valuable. Something that, when I was older, I would claim. It had to do with money but I couldn’t remember what it was nor having received it. I called my parents and spoke to my mother. I asked her about this memory and she told me. When I turned one, my grandmother had put a savings bond into the bank for me. When I turned 18 it would be worth 50 dollars. I don’t recall if I got that bond when I turned 18. However, when I was 29, and learned of this truth, what my grandmother had said, “it will be valuable,” was true. It didn’t happen when I was 18 and it wasn’t money. It was far more valuable than all the money that ever was and will be. I was 29 and that memory, was my first memory. It wasn’t that awful truth I carried for so long.

My first memory was my grandmother standing over me, proud and smiling. Had it not been for gravity, and it’s stubborn law, I think I would have floated away that day. The weight that I had carried for 29 years was lifted from my spirit and from my heart. The “truth” as I had known it, was a lie.

I was still depressed. I was still in despair, but I could say, with a gladness in my heart, if anyone ever asked again, that my first memory, was of love.