a nugget of hope.

Why do we lose hope so easily?  Scratch that.  Why do I lose hope so easily?  I am already painfully aware that life is quite the inconsistent roller coaster of emotions, challenges, and unexpected circumstances.  However, I also believe in the truth that God, “by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope” (II Thessalonians 2:16).

Did you catch that?  God gave us eternal (read: NEVER ENDING) good hope.  So, why do I keep misplacing it?

One thing I struggle with continuously on my journey of faith is the dynamic of free will. Before I provide a description of why, let me provide a caveat.  I in no way feel as though I am free of the consequences of free will nor do I see myself as an individual who is capable of making all the right decisions.  I am a firm believer that healthy choices in my life are the result of God’s grace in guiding my thoughts and actions and unhealthy choices are due to the fact that I’ve taken a significantly wrong turn somewhere and likely got caught up in the net of my tendencies to control.

So, back to free will.  My faith is certainly challenged and my hope momentarily shattered (too extreme? maybe…but that’s how it feels) when I stop and ruminate on the concept of free will.  Typically, my train of thought goes something like this…

God, I am pleading for you to change this circumstance, be present and active in this situation, reveal yourself to this person, provide respite from these challenges.  But wait, what if others continue to have veiled eyes and hearts – attempting to control their own circumstances (because remember, for me it all comes down to control) instead of allowing You to work?  How can I believe in Your divine providence, consistent protection, and all-encompassing power when we still have the ability to choose?  What if I’m making the right choices (ohh pride you are quite nasty!) but ____________ fill in the blank is not!?

And as you can imagine…it snowballs quickly into losing hope.

Unfortunately, I am unable to provide any answers that bring this post to a close in a neatly wrapped package that I’m able to send on its merry way.  The great debate over free will and determinism has spawned centuries and continues to ravage my brain on a regular basis.  I don’t believe I can find a promise or an answer that fully satisfies my struggles in this area of faith.  Why?

“Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. 
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom” (Isaiah 40:28).

But despite my frustrations and uncertainties, I do hold to the promise of hope and know with confidence that it WILL return to me when I’ve managed to lose sight of it.  And that is one nugget of hope I can leave you with.

“You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety” (Job 11:18).

“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,” (Romans 15:13).

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,” (Ephesians 1:18).

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3 Responses to a nugget of hope.

  1. jamesgorton says:

    Some heavy thoughts to ponder

  2. Sarah says:

    As someone who grew up in a church with the phrase “Free Will Baptist” in its title, I can relate to your struggles with free will v. determinism. The more I think about these concepts, the more I keep coming back to the idea of God’s sovreignty. I think one of the consequences of my believing so strongly in free will when I was younger is that sometimes I tend to “humanize” God and think he’s subject to my whims – i.e., He’ll change my circumstances if I pray hard enough, or He’ll give me a get-out-of-jail free card if I do enough good deeds, or He’ll bring me money if I work hard enough, etc. But Scripture teaches us that everything is under His control, and nothing happens without His permission. So no matter how much I believe I am controlling my environment or making things happen, the truth is, none of it is possible without God’s direction and guidance. Honestly, that’s a hard pill for me to swallow when I think of all the evil and inhumanity in the world – but on the other hand, it’s a relief to know that I don’t have to worry about the “end game” because I’m not the one in charge; He is. And as you pointed out, this doesn’t mean that we just throw our hands up and make no attempt to live morally or conscientiously, under the guise that there’s no such thing as free will. . .but I guess what it DOES mean is that we have to remember that Christianity is Faith – admitting that there’s a Sovreign power behind everything, and admitting that we’re human and unable to control what happens in the world. No wonder faith is prized so highly in Scripture – it’s not easy! I lose hope sometimes (a lot of times, actually), too – but I am reminded of Ephesians 1 (the last part of which you quoted, too – one of my favorites!). Keep hope alive! 🙂

  3. jamesgorton says:

    It’s interesting as you read Habbackuk to realize that God was using bad things to get peoples attention. But your comment on why bad in the world is the same issue that Habbackuk had as he questioned as well. It is our faith in the Sovereign that Habbackuk said at the end of the book thought there be no cattle in the stalls and the fields produce no food I will exhalt in the God of my salvation. In the end that is the only place God wants us to be

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