Categories
courage Hope

What Happened to Hope?

“hope” by @polsifter is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I rolled up early one morning last week to one of my favorite running routes on the U.S. Army post where I work. It’s a fairly straight, flat road lined with mature shade trees next to a huge field. Just on the other side of the trees there’s a little creek. This particular morning, a light fog blanketed everything. It was the picture of serenity.

However, despite the setting, I started my run brooding over a stressful situation at work that seemed to have no feasible solution. But then I heard something.

Over the hum of the nearby interstate, an unseen group of basic trainees was calling out cadence. I pictured them running in formation as they chanted together at the top of their lungs:

🎶“Everywhere we go-oh, people wanna know-o, who we are, where we come from, so we tell them who we are…”🎶

These aren’t basic trainees, but I imagine it looked something like this.

As the sound of the soon to be soldiers faded into the distance, my sinking thoughts were buoyed by a fresh revelation:

If they can do that, I can do this!

The majority of basic trainees are miles from home—many for the first time— and dealing with a new “normal”, one where drill instructors make ALL the decisions. Homesick and uncertain what’s coming next, these brave young people must stick together to survive the next 10 weeks. Their Esprit de corps, the devotion they have toward each other and the group as a whole, is literally their life-line.

Perhaps the title of this piece should be, “What happened to hope?” Okay, I already changed it; my first one was pretty lame.😀

Anyway, this is what I heard in the soldiers’ chanting: hope for the future. But for the world at large this idea is no longer in vogue.

It’s painfully clear these days that (to many) hope is like a wind up toy with an ever-weakening spring. A quick check at thesaurus.com confirms it. Synonyms for hope include, anticipation and expectation, but also fool’s paradise and pipe dream.

However, for the Christian, hope is as certain as the character of God.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Hebrews 10:24-25

I love the metaphor, “spur one another on.” It’s like every believer is calling out in formation with all their might, “MORE LOVE AND GOOD DEEDS!!”

These days there are plenty of reasons for a child of God to lose hope, but none of them are good ones.

Now is not the time for swerving, by God! And I mean that literally, not sacrilegiously. 😁🙏

Here are a few more of my favorite “hold on to hope” scriptures. Please share some of yours, if you’d like.


“The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 43:5

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Hold on to HOPE!

Categories
Christian Blog Comfort Hope

God is God, Wherever You Are

Photo by Farrel Nobel on Unsplash

For many of us, these times we’re living through have brought forceful emotions to the surface. For me, this has been particularly visible through mood swings and dreams.

I’ve always been susceptible to up and down emotions, but COVID 19, and now racial tensions on a national level, have taken things up a notch. The hills, drops, and loops of my life roller coaster are larger and occur more frequently.

Hyper-vigilance is the new norm. An unexpected loud sound–FedEx guy rings the doorbell and the dogs go nuts–sends my adrenaline soaring. A typically low-grade frustration takes me from sea level to death valley in a microsecond. It’s like I’m sailing on an even keel one moment, and slipping on a banana peel the next.

Uncertainty impacts the mind.

My pre-covid emotions were driving a Toyota Prius. Currently, I’m cruising in something more like this:


Dreams: they reveal our subconscious desires, and lately mine have been most enchanting. Two nights in a row, I’ve dreamed of intense platonic interactions with others.

Dream number one involves a heart-to-heart conversation with a former colleague I haven’t seen in years. In the second dream, I’m bear-hugging a childhood friend. I’ve also dreamed I’m at some sort of adult summer camp with a bunch of strangers, hiking through the wilderness and making smores by the fire.

Obviously, I’m craving connection with others.

Isolation impacts the mind.

Uncertainty and isolation pack a one-two punch that can put you on the canvas in a heartbeat.

For me, it’s always comforting to look in the Bible for someone who faced a similar situation. Evidently, the psalmist was going through a bit of a dry spell when he wrote this:

As the deer pants for the streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God, when can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:1-2 NIV)

Clearly, here’s a person craving connection, but with God, not man. Maybe this is the secret.

In another psalm, there’s a different deer:

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights. (Psalm 18:32-33 NIV)

Thirsty for a drink, or standing on the heights, God is the one who sustains.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:12-13

God is God, wherever you are.

Follows your heart–no matter how far.

Sees every turn. Knows every scar.

He’s still God–wherever you are.

Categories
Christian Blog forgiveness Hope

There’s Something ALL Over the Floor!

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)

The other day I was hungry, so I went into the kitchen and made a sandwich. I also poured myself a tall, cold glass of lemonade. But the pitcher was pretty full and a tiny amount sloshed out on the floor. So I got a paper towel and wiped it up. Mission accomplished. I thought.

My wife comes into the kitchen while I’m eating, and as she passes the fridge she freezes in her tracks, looks down and says, “There’s something ALL over the floor!” I say, “Where?! I cleaned it up!” “Can’t you see it? Right there,” she says, pointing at an invisible spot in front of the Frigidaire. I’m crouching down like a golfer reading a line for a putt, but I don’t see it. “It’s sticky,” she says. “Did you spill some lemonade?”

BUSTED.

Isn’t this how we are with God sometimes?

God: “There’s something ALL over your life.”
Me: “Where?! I cleaned it up!”
God: “Can’t you see it? Right there.” (He points to my heart.)

Question: What’s a passing grade with God? My son asked me that once. I hated to break it to him, but I told him it’s a 100 A+. He looked at me with huge eyes. Even at nine years old, he knew getting a 100 all the time is next to impossible.

There is no one righteous, not even one; (Romans 3:11 NIV)

There is good news, as you probably know. God may not grade on the curve, but He DOES show mercy.

If you , O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. (Psalm 130:3-4 NIV)

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you that we can be reunited with you through the blood of Christ. Without Him, we could never make the grade. AMEN

https://davidsdailydose.org/2020/06/20/theres-something-all-over-the-floor/

Categories
Hope Perspective

The Sky is Probably NOT Falling

“Whoever seeks good finds favor, but evil comes to one who searches for it.”

Proverbs 11:27

In the early 1990’s, social psychologist Roy Baumeister began exploring the negativity bias–the widely accepted belief that bad has a stronger impact on people than good. His team conducted extensive research, hoping to find situations where a single positive circumstance was actually stronger than a negative one.

They couldn’t find any.

In fact, Baumeister and his colleagues discovered that negative life events are typically three to five times stronger than positive ones. In other words, it takes four compliments to make up for one put down.

He lays it all out in his 2019 book, The Power of Bad.

Here’s my favorite take away: our brains are hard-wired to focus on bad, but the rational mind can take this in stride by finding the good.

Baumeister recommends a positivity ratio of 4 to 1 (4 good to 1 bad).

Finding the good isn’t a new idea; it’s as least as old as the 1913 novel, Pollyanna. In the book, a young orphan named Pollyanna uses the “glad game” to cope with the circumstances and sorrows of her life.

Here’s how to play:

Always look for something to be glad about in any situation.

This makes sense. Maybe it’s why gratitude journals are so popular, while keeping an ingratitude journal is a non-starter.

But let’s take it all the way back to the first century. The apostle Paul reminded the Christians in Rome that God uses EVERYTHING for the good of those who love and serve Him (Romans 8:28).

“Child, I got this. It’s ALL good.”

God

Finally, brothers, Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

https://davidsdailydose.org/2020/05/23/the-sky-is-probably-not-falling/

Categories
Hope

God Doesn’t Make Junk

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10

Many people considered famous today were once oddballs who refused to do their art the established way. The painter Jackson Pollock laid a humongous canvas on the floor of his barn and dripped paint on it. The critics thought he was nuts–until people started calling it art. More recently, there’s Lindsey Stirling, who was told by the judges on America’s Got Talent that her unusual combination of dancing and playing the violin was not marketable. After being voted off the show, she took her skills to YouTube to prove the naysayers wrong. Her channel now has 12.4 million subscribers!

“Jackson Pollock, Cathedral, 1947” by Detlef Schobert is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Personal expression doesn’t have to be justified to hold value.

Come to think of it, Jesus was somewhat of an oddball during His days on earth. His ‘art’ was unappreciated by the religious experts, but people with the ears to hear believed (John 1:12). He now has over two billion followers!

If Christ completed the good works God prepared in advance for Him to do, you can too (John 14:12).

Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!

Dr Seuss

You are God’s workmanship, and God doesn’t make junk!

https://davidsdailydose.org/2020/05/21/god-doesnt-make-junk/

Categories
Hope

God’s Social Media

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”

Psalm 19:1

My uncle Wayne lived alone on a hardscrabble Texas panhandle farm. It was a forsaken piece of packed dirt with more tumbleweeds than trees. His ‘home’ was a tottering old shack with a rusty roof, complete with natural skylights. The front pasture, lunar-like in its geography, was punctuated with scattered pieces of tired farm equipment.

But the ‘dead broke farm,’ as my uncle called it, was also a place of alluring beauty. On cloudless nights the stars were so thick it seemed you could reach out and touch them! And the crisp mornings were a great time to catch a dazzling sun rise from the precariously tilted front porch.

Finding myself so often immersed in God’s creation, it was overwhelming to consider where I fit into it all. There wasn’t always a Bible handy, so I stammered out a prayer–my paraphrase of Psalm 8:3

“When I see Your handiwork: the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth,
it makes we wonder why You’d want to know me.”

Regular David–me

Fast forward to the present.

These days, I am so ‘connected’ the only time I’m truly alone with God is when I’m asleep!

But all is not lost. Sometimes, early in the morning or late at night, I put my phone down, step outside, and listen.

It’s enough.

“Holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory.” (Isaiah 6:3 NIV)

https://davidsdailydose.org/2020/05/18/gods-social-media/

Categories
Hope

The Ultimate Mentor

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17 NIV)

I got my first life coach when I was fourteen years old. Orville Lambert was a 70 something year old deacon at my church who willingly volunteered to teach a bunch of middle-schoolers! Every Sunday morning he stood before us, his soft grey eyes meeting our stuck-up attitudes with a smile.

No matter what we threw at him during the Sunday School lesson, Orville always landed on his feet. He had the remarkable ability to answer any question with a higher caliber query of his own. And the final outcome was always therapeutic.

Like Orville, God asks great questions. The first one in the Bible occurs in Genesis chapter three. Adam and Eve have just eaten the forbidden fruit and hide when they hear God walking in the garden, but He calls out to them:

“Where are you?”

Genesis 3:9b

Isn’t this an amazing statement? God could have said something like, “What have you done?”

Instead, with three words, He reveals the true depth of His love. God seeks connection with us AFTER we fall. He wants to be our friend, even if we don’t accept His friend request.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

God is on a search and rescue mission, not search and destroy.

https://davidsdailydose.org/2020/05/15/the-ultimate-mentor/

Categories
Hope

God Doesn’t Break Toys

The little boy in my music class pounded the tambourine on the floor. This was AFTER I’d demonstrated to everyone how to properly play our classroom instruments. Visibly frustrated, I confiscated the instrument and commented (in jest): “If you break this tambourine, I’m going to come to your house and break one of your toys.” The offender gazed at me blankly. However, another little boy nearby spoke up matter of factly,

“God doesn’t do bad things. He doesn’t break toys.”

Five Year Old Super Sage

OUCH! My young friend had me there. I sheepishly admitted to everyone that he was right and I was wrong.

Even a shallow dive into the Bible, reveals that God is fair in his dealings with people (Psalm 89:14). Furthermore, He is loving (1 John 4:8), patient (Exodus 34:6), and merciful to the max (Lamentations 3:22,23).

“And the point is?”

God is indeed good, but we are prone to blame Him for the evils that touch us personally. For example, I have a friend who lost faith in God after her father died during a routine medical procedure. She feels her dad’s life was taken; how could a loving God allow this?

Truly, this is a tragic situation, but is God REALLY to blame? Perhaps it makes more sense for my friend not to believe in doctors.

With due respect to those who grieve (that’s all of us at some point), aren’t good and bad simply two sides of the same coin?

“Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” (Job 2:10b)

In the quest of making life’s music, there is going to be a broken tambourine or two. Perhaps our goal should be to recognize (that for most of us) our lives contain more lemonade than lemons.

Categories
Hope

God Knows

There is a way which seems right to a man, but it’s end is the way of death. (Proverbs 16:25)

Marie Curie was a highly acclaimed physicist and chemist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The first woman to win a Nobel prize, she is famous for developing and proving the theory of radioactivity.

Unfortunately, the damaging effects of radiation were not yet known, and long term exposure led to Dr. Curie’s premature death.

She was poisoned by her passion.

History is replete with examples of activities that seemed relatively harmless–at the time–but later turned out to be deadly. The health risks of smoking comes to mind.

So how does one know, in the present moment, what passions to pursue or avoid?

Perhaps wise king Solomon, of ancient Israel, provides the answer in one of his many proverbs.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

In reality, the whole universe is a minefield; one wrong step at any point could leave us maimed or dead. Think for a moment. Just how much of what happens on Earth is actually under our direct control?

We have weather forecasters, not “sure”castors.

Sadly, so many of life’s questions end with the same human answer: I don’t know.

But God does.

Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit. (Psalm 147:5 NIV)

I seek today to trust my creator as much as that long-suffering guy in the Bible named Job.

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. (Job 23:10)

God Knows.

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/09/20/god-knows/

Categories
Hope

Not Rare, But Rarely Seen

The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.

Psalm 24:1

The coolest thing happened the other day. One of my co-workers came to tell me there was a luna moth outside! Most of my life I’ve been a butterfly and moth lover, but had never seen a luna in the wild.

I ran outside, and there he was in broad daylight: bright green (most moths are dull in color) and huge! Seeing this mammoth up close was such a treat, because, though not rare, luna moths are rarely seen. Winged adults only live 7-10 days and are mostly active at night.

Seeing one of the largest moths in North America for the first time, after years of searching, motivates me to think about how God works in ways that are not rare but rarely seen.

If the earth and all its contents truly belong to God–since He created them– it’s reasonable to believe He works (mostly unnoticed) to keep things going.

Just like Google, God is a background app we can’t escape.

However, unlike our ‘friend’ in Silicon Valley, the Almighty doesn’t want to control our behavior. He is simply a benevolent Father who promises the best for those who choose to change course (2 Peter 3:9).

There is a way, however, to “hack” the God app and get a bird’s eye view of His activities. Caution: two-factor authentication is required.

Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood.

Psalm 24:3-4

Clean hands and a pure heart, the two things required to climb the holy north face.

But here’s the small print: it’s impossible without Christ (Titus 3:5-6).

God is as close to us as the free air we breath. His presence is not rare, but rarely seen.

I wonder how many Luna moths and other marvels of God I’ve missed over the years?

https://davidsdailydose.org/2019/08/31/not-rare-but-rarely-seen/