Tag Archives: Hope
They’re not the same. But if you’re lonely, you may not believe me. I just ask that you bear with me and read on. I’ve experienced both, but recently have been learning the joys of solitude. You can read some background on some of the more recent chapters of my story here and here. It’s raw, but it’s real. Not much different than your life. Really. We all hurt. We’re lonely. We all do stupid stuff. Loneliness may be the cause of more stupid stuff (and pain for myself and others) in my life than possibly anything else.
Loneliness can be scary but solitude can be satisfying
If you’re feeling lonely, you often feel desperate. At least I do. Even though I bear the “only child” status, I am a people person by nature. When I feel like I don’t have a “person”(friend, companion, lover, etc.) it can be a scary place. It can make you feel like you have no purpose–that somehow, you’re undesirable or unwanted. Believe me, I’ve been there. It’s an everyday battle, but I am learning a few things. So here’s what I’ve done. I’ve embraced solitude. It often looks the same on the outside, but it’s a completely different perspective on the inside. It’s a total shift in mindset. In loneliness I tend to think about what I DON’T have. In solitude I reflect on what I DO have. When I have solitude, I have time. I have time to be, to think, to reflect, to write, to create, to listen, to appreciate the world around me. There’s so much out there to enjoy. And here’s a little secret–most of it came about by someone’s solitude. Take a look at the art in your city, the businesses, the culture…usually if not created completely in solitude, it was conceived that way. Sure, most things worth doing take a team to accomplish, but they are often imagined in solitude. That’s pretty satisfying. Take that class. Learn that instrument. Read that book. Just be. It’s ok and it can be quite satisfying.
Loneliness breeds desperation, but solitude breeds confidence.
Some of the most desperate thoughts and actions come from loneliness. Read the most tragic news and much of what you read can be connected to loneliness in some form. People that are generally happy with themselves and those around them usually don’t intentionally harm other people. What loneliness will do is cause you to do almost anything to attract attention, or will cause you to do anything to maintain the attention of people that generally don’t have your best interest at heart. When you’re lonely you’ll do ANYTHING to be with ANYONE. That’s a dangerous place to be.
Loneliness cultivates isolation but solitude cultivates identity.
Out of our need to belong, we can often allow that need to dictate who we are or who we become. I certainly don’t want to minimize the importance of healthy community in our life, but sometimes we can allow community (of any kind) to CREATE identity rather than be FOUND in identity. It’s subtle, but it’s huge. Solitude allow you the time to discover, or rediscover who you really are. What are your interests when you’re all alone? What do you think about? What brings you joy? Focus on those things and see them through. Take the time. Do the work. Don’t anesthetize yourself with hours of social media browsing constantly comparing the best of other’s lives with the worst of yours. Put the smartphone down and do the work. It’ll change your perspective immensely. You may just rediscover who you really are. And there’s a lot of joy to be found in that.
Where I find my identity
If you’re reading this, chances are, you are a person of faith, as my blog largely focuses on matters of faith, art and culture. However, if somehow you’ve stumbled on this, then allow me a brief moment to share the source of my being. I am a Christ follower, and as such, I find my identity in being a child of God, which Jesus made possible for me by faith in his death (payment for my sinfulness) and his rising again (power over sin and death). I often hear his voice through the Scriptures and even in my heart (which may sound crazy, I do understand that, but is nonetheless very real and gives me an incredible knowing deep in my spirit which cannot be described). I will admit that this “advantage” may seem to give me an upper hand of sorts, in that in reality, I’m actually never alone. I also find great comfort in that. The good news for you, is that this same relationship can be yours as well. Follow the link below to see this relationship explained from the Scriptures. Also, enjoy the links below that may help you in your loneliness. They’ve helped me and I trust they can help you as well.
With Thanksgiving approaching, you may find yourself in a place where you are wondering what in the world you’re going to be thankful for this year. For you, this year may look very different from last year–it certainly does for me. Maybe you find yourself on the mountaintop or maybe you are wondering what in the world you’re going to do next. Maybe you’ve lost a marriage, a family member, a love, your job, your sanity or maybe all of the above.
You may have more to be thankful for than you know but it may look very different than you think. Don’t stop. Keep looking. I’m looking too.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. –Rom 15:13
Hope. It’s such a great word, isn’t it? It tells us that though all is not right in the world, things are not always now as they one day will be. You don’t have to look far, though, to notice that hope is something that’s desperately missing in the world we live in. Christ followers aren’t exempt from the hurts of this life either, but we do have a hope that only God can give and a future that only faith can see. It ’s these “intangible” truths that provide the fuel for us to keep going when the going is hard, to keep trusting when the circumstances seem to tell us otherwise, and to keep loving, because in the end, that’s all that matters and love, ultimately, is all that will last (1 Corinthians 13). Since these “intangibles” are the only things that truly last, whether in this life or the next, maybe they’re more tangible than we often think.
The beauty and gift of pain in this life is that it reminds us that this is not all there is. C. S. Lewis said that one of the plights of humanity is that we are far too easily pleased. He says we’re like the child content with making mud pies in the slums because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. When life is “good” we tend to settle. When life is painful, we tend to hope and long for what is better. Paul gives us this encouragement so that the miracle of hope would overflow and be visible to those around us. Hope implies something better is coming. The good news is that we don’t always have to wait for heaven to experience the “betterness” of God. He longs to give us so much of Himself even now. A favorite passage that is often quoted in reference to heaven actually speaks of the life that we can even now begin to experience through the Spirit of God. “However, as it is written: ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived’– the things God has prepared for those who love him– these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” [1Co 2:9-10] What could possibly be more “deep” in this life than a peace that passes all understanding (can’t be explained–only experienced), and a hope that is secure? (Heb 6:19)
So let’s join together with expectation of an outpouring of His Spirit that we may all experience the Kingdom that is “now but not yet” in all of the fullness available to us today. We hope, we long, we yearn for that overflow.
When we first moved here to the Alpharetta area, one of our members described living here a little like “living in Disney World” and in many senses this is so true. We live in a great community surrounded by beautiful landscapes and the benefits of affluence, hard work and the American Dream. All of us know, however, that no matter where we live on planet earth, there are none of us that are immune to grief. We all suffer loss, whether that be the loss of a business due to a bad economy or the loss of our deepest relationships from disagreements, misunderstandings, or even death. Someone much wiser than I has said, “When times are good, they are rarely as good as we think they are, and when times are bad they are rarely as bad as we think they are.” I really believe that the Scripture would bear this out as well. Our worst of times and best of times will fade quickly compared to the glory that will one day be revealed in us (Rom 8:18). So, with this hope, we rejoice even though we live in a fallen world and even though we see suffering all around us.
Over the last couple of weeks, my heart has shared in the pain of two significant events. A couple of weeks ago, hearing of Rick Warren and family in the loss of their son Matthew to suicide (he suffered from mental illness his entire life)–my heart literally hurt. Rick has been a “pastor to pastors” and has been a pioneer and champion for reaching the unreached and adding value to millions through his books. For any family this would be painful and especially to such a public figure, I knew this would be a tragic loss and one that would meet it’s deal of “haters” from some in the media and mainstream culture. Yet, we have seen the hope of Christ and His Church shine through as many have lifted this family up in prayer and as we have witnessed the testimony of Rick, Kay and the family through social media and personal testimony.
Of course, we all have heard of the bombings in Boston over the last couple of days and our hearts go out to the many families and friends of those that were lost and injured during the blasts. It is so easy to become immune to this as it seems we hear of a bombing somewhere nearly every day. When these tragedies strike so close to home, it is a difficult reminder, however, of the evil that does exist in our world. How can anyone hate that much?
Yet, through the scriptures we also are given several examples of those who also worshipped in the midst of pain.
Job worshipped through grief. Job lived a righteous, God-fearing life. He was blessed by God with a dear family and much material wealth, yet he was allowed to be tested by Satan, who took nearly everything from him, yet Job said, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
Hannah worshipped through grief. Hannah was barren and wanted a child with every ounce of her being, yet this blessing was delayed and she was found weeping in the temple yet “They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:19).
Jeremiah worshipped through grief. So much so, in fact, he is often known as the “weeping prophet” probably due to a book in the Bible that he penned called “Lamentations”. The theme of this book is developed as Jeremiah grieves over a wasted and desolate Jerusalem as a result of Israel’s exile. Yet in the midst of all of this he says, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will hope in him” (Lamentations 3:24).
Jesus, of course, knew grief. On the night before His crucifixion, we see Him praying in the garden of Gethsemane and weeping as it were “great drops of blood.” Yet in the midst of this, he prays, “Not my will, but yours, be done,” and “Father, glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you” (Luke 22:42, John 17:1). We also read in Hebrews where it give us insight into the “big picture” that Jesus was able to keep before Him even despite His great suffering and grief–”Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2).
Like Jesus, may we see the “big picture” and worship through our grief. It doesn’t mean that grief won’t still hurt or that suffering won’t still sting, but it does mean that we know the One who somehow through it all will one day “make all things new”.
How have you worshipped through grief? What advice do you have for those who have suffered a great loss? Let us know by leaving your comments below.
Hope. A four letter word? No disrespect intended here at all, but for many it truly is. Even the Scriptures acknowledge this (Proverbs 13:12), especially in reference to a false hope, or a hope that is deferred. How many times have you hoped for something that didn’t come true, or hoped for better circumstances? Many today can identify with this. Joblessness is higher now than it has been in almost 30 years and many are wondering is there an end to it all? On top of all the doom and gloom in the news, one of the top box office hits is “2012”, a film depicting the end of the world. Where is the hope?
Enter Jesus. “Hope deferred, makes the heart sick” (Prov. 13:12). While true, the good news here is that this Hope (Jesus) is already come–it’s not deferred. That’s what Christmas is all about. No need to wait. Hope came wrapped and delivered in a manger over two thousand years ago.
That is what we’re celebrating this weekend at Trinity with “A Night of Hope”. Jesus said that He has come to “…tell of good news to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, preach deliverance to the captives, recover sight to the blind, and set at liberty those that are bruised and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18 paraphrased). Jesus is the hope that we all need.
Even if you’re still a little skeptical, I invite you to attend “A Night of Hope” this weekend (Dec. 5 & 6 at 4pm) and see for yourself what Jesus has done in the hearts of so many and what He can do for you. Our Choir, Orchestra, drama team, soloists and Artists in Residence, The Nelons (www.thenelons.com) will be presenting this hope in a dynamic musical/media presentation this weekend.
Jesus has come. He is even knocking on your heart’s door (Revelation 3:20). Open up and experience the hope that is found in Jesus and join us for “A Night of Hope”.
For more information on “A Night of Hope”, go to http://www.tbc.org.
*For more information on how you can help and provide hope for the hungry of Jacksonville to to http://www.fighthungerjax.org
As part of the event, we want to help provide hope for the hungry of Jacksonville. We are partnering with the Jacksonville Hunger SWAT Team and it’s affiliate organizations to raise awareness and help with non-perishable food items. You can bring your donation with you to the event. There will be donation bins in designated areas throughout the complex.