When Hope Requires Faith

My crisis may have been a byproduct of SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder – this blasted gloominess that begins in the sky, then wraps itself around my soul.Hope word

It definitely resulted from an unexpected car repair which set me back almost $700.

And it probably came as a result that today is my mother’s birthday and she won’t remember it until someone reminds her.

Like a pile of jagged circumstances, everything piled up and I suddenly found myself weeping – searching for hope without finding it.

I wailed about the unexpected and uncalled-for circumstances that invaded my life without provocation. Unfair. Not the abundant life I hoped for.

And yes, I knew all the things I needed to do: praise God, read a Psalm, play a hymn on the piano, sing, exercise.

These are the same things I share with women all the time in the ministry where I work. I know what to do when despair comes knocking.

But the usual formulas don’t always work to lift us out of melancholy.

Sometimes we are so accosted by the darkness and the unfairness of life that we struggle to breathe and hope to stay somehow connected to what is right and true – to whatever it is that brings light to our distressed souls.

This time I had to force myself to persevere – to make myself drive to church and answer the same question we all hear every Sunday and so glibly answer – sometimes falsely.

“How are you?”

“Fine. Thanks.”

Then the teacher of our class made a statement that gave me a direction where I could pursue hope. I copied the sentence and spent the rest of the hour doodling around it, grateful for its truth.

“Faith is trusting in the character of God.”

Ah – yes. The character of God is good. He is love. His faithfulness is wrapped in a new batch of mercy every morning. He is the same today as he was a year ago and will be decades from now.

Although I could not, dared not try to find my way out of my hole all by myself, I knew that the character of God would somehow rescue me.

Because that is his job description. The Great Rescuer of Mankind. The one and only one I can solely depend on – even when I can’t feel him.

And that is the crux of it. Hope is not always easy to feel. It is that ethereal cloud beyond the present and tomorrow that helps us believe life will somehow get better.

And the only reason we can hang on to belief is because our faith is built on nothing else than the Savior who came to earth and showed us God Himself in flesh and bone.

It still took several days for me to claw my way back to hope but at least I finally had a rope to cling to. That statement about faith helped me look beyond my mother’s Alzheimer’s, beyond the car problems and beyond the grey skies to find the light encircling my Savior’s heart.

I am grateful.

©2015 RJ Thesman – author of the Reverend G books – http://amzn.to/1rXlCyh

 

 

 

Finding Hope in the Grey

What is it about February? The shortest month seems to stretch into a cavernous calendar of grey days.winter scene

Grey isn’t my color. I don’t live well in February.

Occasional spits of snowy ice combine with frigid temperatures. We huddle tighter inside our coats, wishing for a warm blast from the Gulf rather than the icy breath of another polar vortex.

Winter is my least favorite season and it seems that February stretches my barely active tolerance for winter to the limits. Every year, I struggle through it, trying to find joy and praise even while I flex my cold fingers and fight depressing thoughts.

Seasonal Affective Disorder distracts me, especially during February, and I find myself sad emotionally as well as physically. Add to that a family history of several funerals during February that left emotional scars within my memory bank. I can still hear the scraping of frozen earth as cemetery maintenance tried to dig a hole for my great uncle’s casket.

So what do I do to somehow find hope during February?

I count off the weeks, reminding myself that somehow in March, even if we have a late snow storm – somehow the abundant life will return and the sun will shine. Grey skies will morph into blue once again.

I sit in my rocker and watch the sun set, reminding myself that it’s only three more weeks, then two, then one, then a few days until the dreaded month is over once again.

Every year I ask God to somehow provide me with enough money so that I can be one of those snow bird people and escape to Arizona to stay with my cousin during February. He and his wife would put me up in their spare bedroom. I know they would. If only I could get there.

What helps me the most is reciting Psalm 43:5 over and over. “Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him.”

The “yet” will come with the next turn of the calendar. February will become March. Seed catalogs will arrive and gardening supplies will replace mittens and coats. The promise of spring will once more erupt with purple crocuses and yellow daffodils. Birds will sing and I will journal in the sunshine on my deck.

In the “yet.”

It is also in the “yet” that we wait for that eternal hope, when we leave the grey of this sinful earth and live in the warmth of God’s love for eternity. Surely there is no snow or ice in heaven – at least not in my corner of heaven.

For me, heaven will be completely devoid of death and cold, of grey blank skies that promise only icy storms. It will be a place of eternal spring, of joy and hope, of warmth and love, of life that continues forever and ever.

And I will never be cold again.

©2013 RJ Thesman – “The Unraveling of Reverend G” – http://amzn.to/11QATC1