You’ve heard it before, but there are few guarantees in life.
Given that fact, it’s easy to view trust and hope as idiotic things.
Why should anyone trust anyone else or hope in things that may very well never come to pass?
I once thought I had some good answers to those questions, but time and life experience continue to hammer home to me that, really, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing in life.
Stumbling and bumbling through.
People let us down. It’s a given. We screw up. Inevitably.
Why choose to trust anyone else when we know beforehand that we are going to eventually be hurt?
It’s intimately connected to trust. You have to trust in the possibility (i.e., hope) of something happening to have hope (that’s what hope is).
The alternative to trusting and hoping is basically nihilism, which really sucks. I guess apathy, too, which is like America’s national religion anymore along with romantic love.
So, there are the stark choices: trust and hope vs. nihilism and apathy.
Can a brother get another option? No?
One of the nice subsidiary effects of choosing to believe in God is knowing consequently that you gotta choose trust and hope in that showdown, so at least you know where you’re supposed to land.
But it ain’t easy.
Especially as you realize more and more, as I said above, that you (I) really don’t know what I’m doing.
But, hey, there’s a Bible reference for that:
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do…I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing…So I find this law at work: when I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of sin…[but] there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death” (selections from Romans 7 and 8)
Yeah, so there you go, that’s why I don’t know what I’m doing, because I’m constantly at war with myself, and though the war is ultimately already won (that’s the “no condemnation” bit), I still lose a lot of battles.
And one of the biggest battles I fight over and over is with trust and hope, which are, really, some of the most basic foundations to a life that has joy.
I’ve gained a lot of wisdom from Brennan Manning’s book “Ruthless Trust,” and I’ve referenced it a good bit on these pages.
It’s frustrating as hell, but you have to trust the snot out of God as a Christian. You just have to.
Because where else are you going to turn? What else are you going to do?
Living for yourself and what you think you want is bankrupt. I’ve been there, done that, and sure as hell I keep going back to that well, regardless. It sucks. You can make it through denial for a long time, but it’s empty when you’re honest with yourself.
So, trust and hope in God. Ruthlessly.
It’s hard because you know when you’re signing up on it that God isn’t a genie and you aren’t necessarily getting what you think you want. You choose to believe that, ultimately, you’ll get what you really want, even though it doesn’t always feel like that’s what you actually do want right now.
I know, that sounds exciting.
But you flipping have to fight to trust it. To hold onto that hope. Fight, fight, fight, even when fighting is the last thing you want to do (believe me, I know the feeling).
You fight because you know deep within you it’s true, even though you have a million reasons to think it isn’t.
Because you know relying on just your own experience is an incredibly limited point of view when compared with the billions of other experiences out there.
And because you’ve done your due diligence on the whole theological / philosophical / historical investigation of the God questions (well, I’ve done that, maybe you haven’t), and you know where you land, even if you’re tempted out of spite to land somewhere else.
Ruthless, stubborn trust.
Like Jacob wrestling with God, refusing to let him go until he blesses him. Don’t let go.
The trust and the hope is in God making everything alright when it’s all said and done. Somehow, someway, even when I don’t have a freaking clue how.
Because he’s God and he can, but more importantly because he’s promised to.
And though every human being is going to let me down by breaking a promise, God doesn’t do that.
It seems like he ignores me an awful lot, but that’s just my perception, and he doesn’t break promises.
Part of me laughs at that, and it fights battles with the part of me that stubbornly clings to it.
The beginning of trust and hope is gratitude, and while there are things that deeply and profoundly depress me, I have to remember that which is truly wonderful in my life and do my damndest to focus on those things. To be thankful.
And to be thankful not only for the good things, but for all life throws at me, in a weird sort of way. Not masochistically, but because I choose to trust that God will bring good out of everything that happens to me (which isn’t the same thing as accepting that God brings evil my way on purpose).
So – often through grit teeth, tears, screaming, and punching – I will choose to trust and hope.
Even when I lose battles that may last days, weeks, months, I will come back around.
I trust and hope in the goodness of God.