A youth asked me the other day, “Is there hope for this world?” The question came in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, the death of a 4-year old girl after she was viciously raped in India, and the collapse of a factory complex in Bangladesh that killed more than 400.
My answer was an emphatic “Yes!” I’m not burying my head in the sand, for news is the essence of my career, and I’m keenly aware of the tensions, scandals, chaos and disasters around the globe. And yes, I realise that many animal and plant species are going extinct while natural reserves are being depleted at an unsustainable rate. Closer to home, I know people who’re struggling with money problems, family breakups, terminal diseases and mental illnesses.
But what is life without hope? To me, that sounds like the surest route to depression, or severe ennui as the French call it—listlessness, utter weariness and discontent. To be perpetually pessimistic is to embrace what King Solomon of ancient Israel (gifted with great wisdom yet foolish in his lifestyle choices) concluded in old age, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity” or “Meaningless! Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!” -Ecclesiastes 12:8
Hopelessness paralyses. Hope keeps us going, even if it’s for just one day at a time. An author who suffered crushing childhood abuse entitled her book, “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On.” Stormie Omartian exemplifies the spirit of the biblical holy women who “trusted and hoped in God” and “do not give way to fear” but do what is “good and right.” -1 Peter 3:5-6
More than a decade ago, a colleague commented with a tinge of envy, “Carol, you have everything!” By which she meant a good job, a husband with a promising career, bright children and the 5Cs sought after by many Singaporeans—Car, Credit Card, Condominium and Country Club membership. She couldn’t see the insecurity and fears that I felt deep inside me despite the outward achievements, and in fact, I wouldn’t have known how to express it if asked then, although now I recognise that it was a God-shaped void in me. I certainly wasn’t ready then to encounter death and meet my Creator face-to-face, for my family had lapsed into nominal Christianity.
My forties have been a decade of coping with major losses including the death of my mother who wasn’t a Christian. Witnessing the intense agony that I went through—a very dark few weeks during which I had to literally “wrestle with God” the way Job did in the bible—a long-time friend remarked, “I don’t know how you manage to stay sane.” The answer to that was that I had drawn close to my Heavenly Father again during those years and was firmly anchored in Him, assured of my true identity as His beloved child. My life hasn’t been a bed of roses, but my faithful God has seen me through every storm, so I’ve learnt to constantly find my security in Him and draw strength and refreshment daily from “my ever present Help in trouble.”
Now, whenever something happens that I don’t appreciate and may never understand this side of Heaven, my many personal testimonies of God’s faithfulness, goodness and guidance enables me to continue placing my confidence and trust in Him. So in the midst of the worst situations and circumstances, I can boldly declare that my sovereign Lord is the perfect blend of Love and Holiness, Grace and Judgement. “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right” and “deal justly?” No one will have any cause for complaint against God when His perspective is fully revealed at a future date in history.
There are useful experiences and hard-earned lessons that I plan to share in my future posts, with the hope that they’ll encourage those facing the same issues and struggles. Some colleagues who’ve been with me most of my working life will be surprised that they never knew what I was going through at the time. But if we’re honest, I think most of us don’t really have a clue as to what the majority of the people we interact with at work are really feeling or going through. I don’t put on a front, for I believe in honesty and am typically grounded in reality, but I’ve also learnt to be wise. Share personal matters only with those you trust, people who’ll take the time to provide good counsel or even lend a helping hand when needed. You don’t have to oblige if you suspect that all the other party wants is more fodder for the gossip mill.
During my first year as a Broadcast Journalist, an older reporter asked me bluntly, “So did you get one, two or three?” She was referring to the standard increments then of $100, $200 or $300. Taken off-guard, I blurted out the figure. Since then, my company has corporatised and increments come in a wide range of amounts. At the same time, I’ve learnt to simply smile when faced with such brazen queries. One tip is that it’s helpful to prepare your answers at home if there are things you prefer to keep to yourself or disclose only to a select few.
WHO AM I?
Who am I, they ask me? I’m LOVED & ACCEPTED—the cure for so many of the world’s ills. Many are trapped in a relentless search for that elusive security, never finding a level that satisfies until we come to the feet of Jesus Christ. LOVED—for eternity! Surpassing all expectations and exceeding all imagination. Beloved Lord, I hunger and thirst to love and be loved to the full measure that You intend for me.”
Father God loves us, accepts us, and wants a personal relationship with us. So He’s made it possible for us to be saved by grace and “raised up with Him and seated with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” -Ephesians 2:6
As I was using my calculator today, I was struck by the similarity between a plus sign and the Cross of Calvary. God our Provider adds good things to our lives—Love, Family, Purpose, Wisdom, Hope of A Glorious Eternal Home through Jesus Christ!
What repels God? ==Pride. An excessively high opinion of oneself/one’s importance; contempt for others.
What attracts God? ==Humility. Throw ourselves upon the mercies of God with all our guilt, shame & unworthiness. Our Heavenly Father races to embraces us just as we are. He gathers up the fragments of our lives into His loving, healing arms. –(40-Day Prayer 2011 @ http://www.lovesingapore.org.sg)
My Prayer For You
My friend, if you’re troubled, stressed or discouraged today, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy & peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
– Romans 15:13
Here’s a song that stirred up hope in many victims of Typhoon Katrina in America.
Still/Be Still My Soul – Don Moen
Lyrics/Music: Reuben Morgan
Everything Falls/Arms That Hold The Universe – Fee
Lyrics/Music: Eddie Kirkland, Steve Fee
“Hope springs eternal in the human breast; Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home, Rests and expatiates in a life to come.”
–Alexander Pope (An Essay on Man)
A very disappointed soft drinks salesman returned from his Middle East assignment.
His friend asked, “Why weren’t you successful with the Arabs?”
He explained, “When I received my new posting, I was very confident of making a good sales pitch as Cola is virtually unknown in the Middle East. But I had a problem as I don’t know Arabic. So I decided to be creative by conveying the message through three posters…
Poster 1: A man lying in the hot desert sand, totally exhausted
Poster 2: The man drinks Cola
Poster 3: Our man is totally refreshed and energised!
…I made sure these posters were put up all over town,” sighed the salesman.
“That sounds like a good idea that should have worked!” said the friend.
“To my horror,” replied the salesman sadly, “I found out that I had made a huge mistake!”…
…“Don’t you know that Arabs read from right to left?!”
Know Your Customers! 😀