Thursday, November 17, 2011

Words of Hope

Last night my husband and I enjoyed some good laughs looking at my old yearbooks. We particularly enjoyed reading the Seniors' quotes of challenge/encouragement to the underclassmen.

"Life is short, have fun."
"Enjoy life, there's plenty of time to be dead."
"You are only a child once, therefore go out and live it up!"
"Live life to the fullest."
"Listen to your heart and nobody else."
"Never be satisfied with where you are in life; always want more."
"You only get one ticket, you might as well enjoy the ride."
"If it seems right, go with it."
"Success is the path to happiness."

and my personal favorite:
"Always put God first. If you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything." (I don't think the person thought this out. Put God first, but you can achieve anything?)

I graduated with over 500 students so there was some good solid advice, but  the overwhelming majority of the quotes involved living life to the fullest and having fun. How sad, how empty! I would be interested to see people's "quotes" now, over 10 years later. I'm sure some of these people have had significant trials in their life. Unfortunately words like, "success is the path to happiness" will not bring much hope when you lose your job. I wonder if those I graduated with who are now in jail wished they had just "listen[ed] to their heart more and nobody else"? Or if the single girls who desperately want to be married with a family of their own find assurance in, "never be satisfied with where you are in life, always want more"? I seriously doubt the person suffering from a debilitating physical condition finds "if you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything" to be very encouraging. I sure don't!

It saddens me to think how many teenagers go into adulthood thinking "life short, live it up"! We hear of respectable, church-going men with wives and children who commit adultery and leave their families and we wonder, "why"? But that's where words like, "if it seems right, go with it", get you!

I have said it many times, but I do not know how people make it through life without Jesus. Who/what do they turn to when suffering comes? Surely not inspirational quotes like these. People often give me words of "encouragement" like "don't give up hope". But what does that mean? Do they mean a generalized hope that in the future my health could be restored? Or do they mean, "keep trusting in God and find hope in His word (Psalm 119:81)"?

During my struggles with pain I've been convicted to be more careful about the words of encouragement I offer to people. When life is hard and the road looks dark words like, "You only get one ticket, you might as well enjoy the ride" or even "don't worry about the future" don't offer hope to the suffering soul. I need to be reminded daily of God's truths in love-that He is working out His good plan for my life and my suffering is not in vain.

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