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Tag: heartache

Searching for hope and joy

by on May.09, 2014, under Faith

Searching For Hope

I learnt a life lesson at a fairly early age in a very simple manner. I was nearly ten and I had saved my money to buy a new Action Man figure with a “real” parachute. It looked amazing. I unwrapped it, dressed the 12-inch SAS para in his black combat fatigues, carefully attached his parachute and enthusiastically launched him into the air. My expectation was that the parachute would open and he would gracefully descend back to the garden whereupon we would continue our adventure. The reality was that while the parachute did open, the attached unfortunate soldier hurtled to the earth at speeds I’d not anticipated. He landed okay but fell face forward and headbutted the concrete patio. Rather than exult in the glory of this micro-warrior’s travels, I looked on in horror seeing nothing but the great crack that had been put in his brand new helmet visor. I was in some sort of shock and the Action Man sat on my bedroom window sill unplayed with for several months after that. My hope was that this lump of plastic would give me the joy I sought; that I could throw him around and yet he would always be perfect. But toys aren’t like that, and neither is life. Both are fragile and both can break in ways we don’t expect.

Two stories hit my inbox in the last couple of days. Both reminded me of this thought.

Ian & Larissa

The first was the account of Ian & Larissa, a young couple whose story is nothing less than beautiful. If you’ve ever wondered what true love looks like, they give an amazing rendition.

Emily Letts

Then I came across another, altogether different, story. The link below tells the tale of a young woman who has a procedural abortion and was filmed throughout the entire process. (A word of warning, the page includes a link to the footage. I decided not to watch it myself as I read several accounts from those who did and subsequently wished they had not. It’s not that it’s graphic, it’s just that they realised they were watching the end of a person’s life.)

You can read the account I initially read here: Cherry Hill abortion video goes viral. The original, full-length article on the Cosmopolitan website is here: Why I filmed my abortion.

The painful truth

The truth of the matter is life hurts. On the face of it the two stories are poles apart and yet I think they share a common trait. Both stories include tumultuous individual circumstances: the complete and sudden upset of the lives they’d planned and expected. It’s in moments like these that you can tell where a person’s hope lies and if they have real joy in their lives. The slightly pessimistic reality of life is that it’s never straightforward; something always goes wrong, or at the very least not as right as we’d like. It’s only when our lives are radically altered like this that we see the true source of our hope and our joy in life.

What both these stories reinforce for me is that people are searching for hope and joy.

There seemed to me to be very little hope or joy in Emily’s story. She faces her problem almost clinically. Perhaps that was deliberate. My thoughts on abortion are simple and, I believe, biblical. But putting my bias aside, I see a girl who is in pain, she sees a way out and she takes it. She says she’s trying to deal with the guilt that she and others might feel is associated with the act. I’m not so convinced she has. She’s just ignoring it for now but, as others have testified to, the memory of it will come back to her at some point. Freedom from guilt only comes from God’s forgiveness and that through Jesus Christ. (Tim Challies wrote a good post on this a while back.)

The huge difference we see with the Ian & Larissa story is the source and focus of their hope and their joy. While on the face of it is in each other, it is actually outside themselves. Both hope and joy exude from their story in spite of their circumstances. Weren’t you lifted as you heard of their faithfulness to each other through the tragedy and having the grace to find joy in adversity? I was in tears within seconds of hearing their story and elated to rejoice with them in their love for each other. I’ve never met them and doubt I will this side of heaven but it was just so obvious so see that if their hope and joy were tied to their circumstances it would naturally be dashed. The most positive, optimistic person in the world would struggle to keep that act up day after day.

The true source

If our hope and joy is set on things or people, they will ultimately let us down; they fail. God doesn’t. That’s the difference. When our hope and joy are set on God (as Ian & Larissa’s clearly is) then whatever happens in life cannot destroy the true source of our hope and joy. When we understand this we start to understand how Christians around the world are able to survive the most horrendous circumstances, opposition and persecution. We are very fortunate to live in the part of the world we do but even with all its benefits, life here will always be uncertain when our hope and joy are not set on God. (1 Peter 1:3-8)

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