Hope this finds you well. Sorry this is so late getting to everyone. I’ve been wondering what to write and or if to write anything at all, but here are some things that I’ve been stewing on for a bit.
Recently I’ve been reminded of Mother Teresa’s words, “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.” Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has thought the very same thing.
Look at the news: Myanmar, China, Africa, the US economy, hardships of friends or our own, high fuel prices (all things I wish I could change). Everyone seems to feel the fear creepying in and control slipping out of our grip. Fear and discouragement seem to be rearing their ugly heads – attempting to destroy any glimmer of hope or the notion of speaking good things to those who need to hear them. These two very things pose the biggest obstacles to the significant contribution each of us have to make on the world, on our neighbours & friends, or on our city. Just the same it can cause us to put up defences that hide our true self and who we were created to be. In contrast it is easy to hope when things are going well and we are in control, but hope when times are good may not be hope at all, but rather uninformed optimism – kind of like teenagers who are in love.
The two biggest motivations in my life are fear and love. Which one will rule me? I have seen incredible tragedy in our work in Africa. Ironically, it seems to apply to people all over the world, across economic, social, and cultural strata. I have seen both in multiple cultures - give less, don’t risk, ignore the forgotten, harbor unforgiveness, go to where the grass is greener, retreat into our false interior castle, keep up appearances, etc, etc….fill in your own words.
I want to share some reason to hope. Let me tell you about my friends in America who give so generously while they themselves are in need, or the 18 years old orphan I met in South Africa who forgave the man who murdered her mother. Or the 7 Christians serving orphans in a Muslim state-run orphanage for the past 10 years. Or my friends Keith and Katherine who invite refugees over for dinner. Or my friend Stuart who’s riding an hour on his bike to and from work to raise money for orphans in Africa. Or the people in Zambia who help their neighbors simply because they have the strength to get out of bed. All of these motivated by love and not by self preservation and fear.
We all need reason to hope and to be encouraged. Jesus gives us reason to hope: “In this world you will have trials, but fear not, I have overcome the world.” Or how about the time He takes a child’s loaves and fishes and feeds a few thousand people and the time he makes water into wine. Turning nothing into something. Take lack and making plenty. Building a His Church for the first 250 years with broken lepers, prostitutes, beggars, and down right nobodies.
I’ll leave you with this: another Mother Teresa quote. “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” ( FYI: people who deal with justice issues tend to quote her a lot) When times are hard don’t survive, but rather love. Hope is always preceded by love.
PS. Have a look at the video. I know not everyone maybe comfortable with some of the wording, but I haven't found such a hopeful outlook from someone like Mr. Benn in quite sometime. Special thanks to Chris Mitchell in the UK for this.