Since the metaphorical can of worms has been opened, let’s go fishing.
Perseverence. Before we wade into deep waters, let’s talk about an aspect of perseverance that I feel is absolutely crucial to our staying afloat. This buoy is called “hope.”
For me hope seems to be synonymous with trust. I trust God. (I’m not saying this as prideful arrogance, it’s just the way it is) I have some friends who don’t trust God. (Which is not judgemental in any way…it’s just where they’re at personally, and they’d probably be the first to admit it) Something escruciating has happened in their lives and they think that God’s pissed at them. Even though in a few of the cases it was a bad decision that they made that caused the problem, they still find a way to make it fall on God, which, while I’m sure that God can handle it, it hurts to see my friends struggle. But even the ones that didn’t “do” anything to cause the negative happenstance, feel that the problem is that God doesn’t like them. It’s interesting, there are people who claim to have all the answers, and whether it’s right or wrong they think you should follow their “wisdom.” (I’m in no way saying, “listen to me, I’m right!” I’m just throwing out my personal experience and hoping that someone can do something with it) I don’t know why things happen to my friends, but looking at tragedies in my own life I see hope. Maybe not the warm, fuzzy kind that best selling, inspirational books are made of, but the kind of hope that picks me up off the ground when my nose is buried in the dirt. One of the reasons I trust God is that somehow in my darkest night the sun still rises. Or in other words, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel…the tunnel may be long but not forever. Another reason I trust God is because when I need Him most He brings just the right people into my life. See, I don’t live in a delusional world that is free of pain. I just know that somehow God will give me the strength to get through it. The world is a scary place: I know it, and Jesus said it (John 16:33), but somehow there’s peace that I didn’t conjure up on my own. Brennan Manning writes in his book “Ruthless Trust”: “Trust means the willingness to become absolutely empty of all terrifying and comforting images of God that we have held, so that the gift of God in Jesus Christ may come to us on God’s terms.” I trust God. I know He’ll come through, so I can stick it out whether the trial is a final exam, a tough bill cycle, the death of a loved one, or an honest fear that tomorrow might not come.
Hope on the other hand, boggles my mind. I trust God, but my hope in Him feels a lot deeper than my brain “power.” C.S. Lewis once wrote: “Hope…means…a continual looking forward to the eternal world….It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next….It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.” While trust seems to be my strength for hard times, I think hope is my drive, my passion. Because (I mean) if the present circumstance is all I have to look forward to then: what’s the point?
The first time I went snowboarding my goal was to get down the hill once, upright…without falling. For a half a day I hurled my body down the mountain, taking as many people with me as I could. (But not on purpose) My body was covered with bruises and while even my last run was far from perfection my determination was not. I contorted my body into more positions than a yoga guru on a twister mat, but loved my time there on the mountain. And the mountain may never forget me. I’m a dangerous snowboarder. I want to live life as recklessly in the love of God as I do in comparison to my unorthodoxed snowboarding technique. Sometimes I look foolish, but I’m determined. Falling’s inevitable, but I’m still going to try to not fall because it hurts when I do. (And besides, there’s hot chocolate waiting at the bottom of the hill)