When the doctor comes to us and says, “I’m sorry, there is nothing we can do,” that is interpreted as hopelessness with a capital “H.” But somehow, among Christians, the idea that we can’t do anything supposedly gives hope. No wonder that the world will not come to us for answers to life’s deepest problems. Somehow, we think the world will believe that God can save a soul when He can’t even teach His children to save a marriage. In fact, the church is indifferent to solutions because after all, “God has preordained it.” No wonder churches are dying. True, there are confused ones that believe God hasn’t preordained hopelessness, but still say there is nothing we can do. That is where New Calvinists offer a more doctrinally sound hopelessness.
The mind – we can’t do anything without it, though some argue that many do. But certainly, it can be our greatest ally or our worst enemy. Another certainty is the following: the mind functions very poorly without hope. Hopelessness always leads to an ill-fated end, even if accompanied by joy; “eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
Many truths in the Bible give us hope across a wide spectrum of life full of things that trigger our thoughts and emotions. As I am preparing to plan a trip to PR to visit my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter, I was nagged by something that I loath in life, goodbyes; and then after that, flying, another object of my disdain second only to goodbyes. However, I praise God for something that He has given me in life, and has probably given to you as well; when I am confronted with thoughts that bring about bad feelings, my mind starts scanning for truth that that will lift my spirits or at least prevent bad feelings from becoming unreasonable, or even sinful. Oddly, Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 came to mind:
1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. 9 What does the worker gain from his toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on men. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time.
God is completely sovereign, all wise, all knowing, and completely holy and good in everything he preordains. Though the times of life bring about different emotional responses; as we say in the modern vernacular, “it’s all good.” Because God is in control, hope is always on the calender, and it’s there everyday:
“22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ 25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; 26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD” (Lamentations 3:22-26).
God’s compassion is new every morning (some translations: “mercies”). We see this in His creation; the solar days, every day is a new day and God’s compassions are also new. I have a motto that I have adapted in my life, “no matter how dark today looks, wait for tomorrow.” Dark Day seems to have a favorite lie: “Today is forever.” He also gleefully gloats as each day becomes darker as his lie is believed, “hope is not on your calender,” he says. But it surely is. Several years ago, I taught a children’s Sunday school class. One lesson was on James, chapter one. There was a nine year-old girl in that class who was going through a dark time in her life. Later, her father came to me and said his daughter came to him after the class, joyfully proclaiming, “Dad! We learned that trials always have an end! Why was that such a surprise?; hopelessness is a lier, that’s why.
I like to write and recently learned that one should look for successful authors and read their works to become a better writer. One such author that caught my attention was Iris Chang, the young journalist who wrote “The Rape of Nanking,” which was on the New York Times Best Seller list for ten weeks. A hefty feat for someone 29 years of age. I read through portions of the book and found her to be a worthy mentor indeed. I also did some research to learn more about her and discovered that she committed suicide in 2004, seven years after the writing of TRON. She had left three suicide notes dated November 8, of that year. I quote from the one of the notes:
“I had considered running away, but I will never be able to escape from myself and my thoughts. I am doing this because I am too weak to withstand the years of pain and agony ahead.”
How did she know that her suffering would be for years? She didn’t. Who lied to her? Hopelessness did. What she didn’t know was that hope is on the calender every day. She also wrote:
“When you believe you have a future, you think in terms of generations and years. When you do not, you live not just by the day — but by the minute.”
But we always have a future, God’s mercies are new every day. Didn’t anybody tell her? You know, somebody like you. If you are a Christian who reads at a sixth grade level and is armed with the word of God, you are a hope expert. Everywhere you go, you are rubbing shoulders with people who need hope. This is a quote from Wikipedia concerning Iris Chang:
“At the time of her death she had been taking the medications Depakote and Risperdal to stabilize her mood.“
Which means that she was under the care of a Psychiatrist. But she obviously needed more than a Psychiatrist, for by the writing of her own hand, she said she had no hope. What she needed was someone like you, a hope expert. The world does not need more “experts” and reformed Christian philosophers, it needs everyday hope givers like you armed with the word of God. I became privy just today in regard to a new local church in Beavercreek, Ohio. They got the whole thing that’s workin’ for church growth these days; the contemporary building, the Starbucks coffee booth, the praise band, the padded chairs instead of pews, etc., etc., add nausea. The website even had a video of the pastor presenting an introduction about the church, Starbucks cup in-hand, I kidd you not. Well, the pastor can drink Caffe Mocha Dolce Lattes with a shot of Expresso, but can he give hope? I doubt it, because the website also indicated that they farm-out all of their counseling to a local organization of “expert” counselors, probably like the ones who got a hold of my would-be mentor.
Well, after my discovery, I wanted one of the many variations of hope that the Lord offers. I wanted hope that maybe I would get to see Iris in the kingdom because she had sought the ultimate hope in Jesus Christ. But my findings were bleak. Iris wrote the following in the same note:
“I know that my actions will transfer some of this pain to others, indeed those who love me the most. Please forgive me. Forgive me because I cannot forgive myself.”
I listened to a pastor give a presentation at the job bank today. He talked about the need to “love ourselves.” You see, if we don’t love ourselves, obviously, we won’t forgive ourselves either. But we don’t need self-forgiveness, we need forgiveness from God by trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Besides, when would we ever love ourselves enough? Good luck with that one! It’s just more proof that the everyday Christian bumpkins need to get to the hopeless before the pastors do.
Well, what should I do now? Should I read the book? Can I still look to Iris as a mentor? I think I will, because the suicide notes were written a day before her death. Who knows what happened the day after? Only God and her were in that car. I guess God’s world is so full of hope, that at times we can take hope in what we don’t know for certain.