What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thoughts on Hope, Part 3

The third factor in hopelessness is survival. The key result of this hopelessness is a sense of doom. It leads to a sense of forsakenness, limitedness, doom, and helplessness. There are many passages in David’s psalms that depict how David’s very life is in danger. He has a sense of doom and despair. This sense of doom plays into the beliefs that things will never change and that things will not get better. The passages of Scripture already cited deal with those issues.
The sense of doom also plays into my fears about people and the future. I used to have a rule for living that stated, “Nothing I want will happen.” Another “old” rule stated that I believe that all relationships with other people will fail. That’s a sense of doom for relationships. And without other people in our lives, it is hard to survive. However, those rules have been put aside, for the most part, and I try not to slip back into believing them or acting as if I believe them. Sometimes it’s harder than other times to do that. For instance, if I have a conflict with a person, I slip into thinking the relationship cannot withstand the anxiety, tension, hurt feelings, despair, or sadness that comes from being in conflict with another person.
There are Scriptural references which address conflict among people, especially people who are brothers and sisters in Christ. However, several of the passages tell us that the conflict might result in severed relationships even after we’ve done all we can to restore the relationship. Matthew 18:15-17 says,
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” [ESV]
So I have to accept the possibility that a severed relationship might happen. However there’s a lot of work and effort that needs to be exerted before we “give up” and turn it over to God to deal with.
There are other verses that address dealing with conflicts by forgiving the other person and offering to meet their needs regardless of the conflict. The section in Romans 12:17-21 gives us instructions for dealing with our “enemies” with love and concern:
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” [ESV]
These passages do not alleviate my fears that friendships and relationships may end but they give me hope that something can be done to deal with the hurt feelings and frustrations that come from severed relationships.
Scripture also gives plenty of advice for how to deal with conflict. As we saw in the Matthew 18 passage, we need to go to the person and present our case. If that doesn’t work (because the person refused to listen), then bring two or three others (presumably godly others) with you to help mediate the situation. Other passages talk about being forgiving towards those who have offended you. An example of this kind of instruction is found in Colossians 3:13 which says, “Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” [ESV] Another familiar verse on forgiveness is found in Luke 17:4 and says, “And if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” [ESV]
These verses and passages give me hope because they place ultimate judgment in God’s hands and make judgment not my responsibility. I need to do what Scripture says about conflict resolution and trust God for the outcomes. And mostly, I need to practice forgiving those who have offended me in some way to maintain a peaceful existence.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thoughts on Hope, Part 2

Continuing from last week's post . . . 

A second basic reason for hopelessness comes from not having a sense of mastery in your life. That leads to helplessness, limitedness, oppression, powerlessness, and feeling uninspired. And it also leads to a feeling that things can never change. First let me say that there are a couple of things that will never change and these things should bring about a sense of comfort: God/Jesus Christ and His Word. 1 Samuel 15:29 explains this concept: “And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.”  1 Samuel 15:29 implies that man changes his mind on a regular basis and therefore change is, again, inevitable. So, change is a sure thing in everything else in this world.
            Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 talks about there being a season for everything under heaven. There’s a time for opposites to happen in our world. That being true it means things will not always be the same. There will be change. Look at verses 1, 2, and 4 of the passage in Ecclesiastes:
There is an appointed time for everything, And, there is a time for every event under heaven – A time to give birth, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted . . . A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
So things will change. Maybe not always the way we want them to or to the exact opposite of the way they are right now, but change has its appointed time in our world, as directed by God.
            In Romans 5:3-5 it tells us that one thing leads to another in an orderly, God ordained manner. One situation leads to a change in the situation, which leads to another change until we have hope that does not disappoint:
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
I know I’m nowhere near exulting in my tribulations, but that doesn’t change the fact that things will change: from tribulation to perseverance to proven character to hope. I just haven’t gotten to the hope part, yet.
            Along with this idea that things will never change is the hopeless idea that things will never get better. However, as Romans 5:3-5 states, things do get better. I would say hope is better than tribulation. There are also verses and passages that talk about a future worth living for; things will get better in the future. I especially like the ideas in 1 Timothy 6:19: “storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” Ultimately, there’s a better life once we get to heaven: “in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” {2 Timothy 4:8)
            There are other passages of Scripture that talk about the fact that things might be uncomfortable or less than desirable right now, but by trusting in God we can learn to rejoice in the salvation God has provided for us. Psalm 13 tells us that David felt dismayed, even depressed and had trouble believing that God would act in a timely manner, that God had forgotten him. His primary questions all start with “How long . . .” as in how long will God forget him, hide His face from him, have to rely on his own counsel, have sorrow all day long, and how long will the enemy win. But David concludes the Psalm with the words of hope that God will eventually make things better: “But I have trusted in Thy lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation. I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.” (Psalm 13:5-6)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thoughts on Hope, Part 1

           “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12
            A wise woman once quoted this verse to me to explain why I repeatedly had bouts of depression. I heard her at the time but I failed to see the impact it could have on a person’s life. So much of the problems people have in life stem from a lack of hope and not having their desires fulfilled.
            This is not the only Biblical verse that mentions, “hope.” Hope is mentioned in 141 different verses ranging from the Major Prophets in the Old Testament to the apostles in the New Testament. And there are many other passages of Scripture that deal with having hope that don’t use the word hope. And there are other passages of Scripture that talk about things and situations that are not as hopeless as they seem. Having hope could alleviate many of the issues I face in my daily life and in my beliefs about how the world functions, including believing that things will never change, or that things will not get better. However some verses speak more directly to those two issues and I will cite them also throughout this essay.
            There are several thoughts on hopelessness. One article that I read said there are nine forms of hopelessness based on three basic issues: attachment, mastery and survival. All of these issues are addressed in Scripture. For instance, attachment deals with feelings of alienation, forsakenness, or being uninspired. David is a great example of all these forms of hopelessness, as is Job. Both men felt the total despair that comes from feeling like no one cares about them anymore and have been separated from those people for various reasons. In Psalm 62:5-8 David says, 

“My soul, wait in silence for God only, For my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God. Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us.” 

Only a person who feels utterly alone would say that his only hope is from God. It doesn’t come from his loved ones, his friends, or his family. He feels abandoned by all and can only rely on God.
            Throughout the book of Job, Job’s friends and family tell him to give up and die. But Job responds that he will not do that because he has hope in God. At one point it is said of Job, “Is not your fear of God your confidence, And the integrity of your ways your hope?” (Job 4:6). Again this is a person who could only trust in God; his friends and family had forsaken him and believed he was in dire trouble and would die.
            The antidote for this kind of hopelessness is to trust in God and in His Word. Psalm 130:5 says, “I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope.” In Ecclesiastes 12:13 it says, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.” So no matter what we hear from other people (or don’t hear from other people) the final word is to fear God and follow His Word. Hope is found for even the friendless, in God.

Thursday, April 9, 2015


Last week in my commitment statement I said “I will write one truthful statement from the Word of God in my journal . . . “ to combat the suicidal thinking. I found that doesn’t just happen. I couldn’t think of a single affirmation at the point of distress. So I decided to start making a list I could keep in my journal, which I almost always have with me, to reference when a crisis moment presents itself. I’m still working on that list gaining insights from the promises of God I’m looking at each day in my devotional time.
So far I’ve come up with four. The first one is from the verse I have at the top of my commitment statement: “He has by his own action given us everything that is necessaryt for living the truly good life . . .” [2 Peter 1:3 Phillips] Basically the affirmation is: God has provided me with everything I need to have a good life.
The second one comes from Galatians 6:9: “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for, unless we throw in our hand, the ultimate harvest is assured.” My affirmation based on this verse says, “In time I will reap a harvest, if continue to do good.” I can look forward to seeing some results from the good I’m trying to do.
The third affirmation comes from 1 Corinthians 9:24-25. Again in the Phillips it says, “Do you remember how, on a racing-track, every competitor runs, but only one wins the prize? Well, you ought to run with your minds fixed on winning the prize! Every competitor in athletic events goes into serious training. Athletes will take tremendous pains—for a fading crown of leaves. But our contest is for an eternal crown that will never fade.” My affirmation statement puts it this way: “There’s a crown if I don’t give up the race.”
And my last one, so far, is from Jeremiah 29:11. In the NASB it says, “ For I know the plans that I [a]have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” This is an affirmation I used a lot this week. In it’s most basic form I just say, “God has a plan for my life.”
I will continue to look for and notice possible affirmations from Scripture and add them to my list. Eventually I hope to have 5 – 10 solid affirmations I can look at whenever I’m feeling like life is not worth living. I’m open to suggestions from anyone who wants to offer one. It may get added to my list.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Status of Commitment

I’m still afraid to make the commitment for a long period of time. It’s been suggested to me that I make it for one day at a time, like I did for stopping drinking. Also like stopping drinking, that doesn’t mean the thoughts to drink (or kill myself) won’t come up from time to time. It just means I don’t act on those thoughts and purposefully turn my thoughts to something else. I will see how this works one day at a time. Then maybe I will develop the confidence and courage to make the commitment for a longer period of time.
So as a reminder to me, I’m reprinting the commitment statement I posted last week:
“He has by his own action given us everything that is necessary for living the truly good life, in allowing us to know the one who has called us to him, through his own glorious goodness.”

If I believe God’s Word, then I have to believe that He’s given me everything I need to live a good life even when my life doesn’t seem so good. With this in mind, I will dismiss thoughts of suicide, reminding myself that it is not an option. To support this commitment, I will write one truthful statement from the Word of God in my journal each time the thoughts occur.

Suicidal thinking includes thoughts about losing weight in inappropriate, unhealthy, life-threatening ways including mismanaging my insulin dosing.

I am making this commitment because God has promised me a good life and I need to wait to see what He will bring about without taking things into my own hands. I am making this commitment to those who love and need me, especially not wanting to hurt or “damage” them.
1.     All my parts (including adult). I will work to break the cycle of abuse from my parents with my inner child as I have done with my physical children.
2.     My immediate family
3.     Best friend
4.     Bible study partner
5.     Recovery friends: Therapist, AA
6.     My siblings
7.     Current and future fans of my book(s)
On my commitment statement I will share with my therapist, I have a signature line and a date line. On Wednesday, in her presence, I will commit to thinking suicide is not an option a day at a time and sign and date on the lines.