Hope, Grit, and Faith

I have a melancholy temperament. I am keenly aware of everything wrong with life. I can be overcome by fear, despair, suspicion, and bitterness. Life is not easy, and people are not essentially good. What good guys there are don’t always win, and the bad guys frequently don’t lose. Not in this life. There are horrible things that happen to people, some of them acts of nature, some of them the malicious actions of fellow human beings. We don’t live in a happy-go-lucky world. It’s dark out here. I’ve plumbed some deep depths of depression, what is terrifying is the knowledge that plenty of people go through far worse.

But when I’m at my lowest, when I think I’ve failed at everything I care about, when everyone seems to be against me, when it seems that the only people who care are thousands of miles away, when I’m at most cynical and I’ve given up on my dreams–at those darkest moments, something happens. I take a look at life and say, “Screw it. I’m going to keep going. I’m going to be happy.”

I am of the conviction that this world is ruled by a sovereign God who loves me, and who works all things together for the good of those who love him. I believe the world is bigger and more complicated than I can began to comprehend, and I believe God is a heck of a lot smarter than I am.

When life is hard, he’s shaping me. He’s building me up in his image–to be a man worth being, and to live a life worth living. No matter how bad things get, they’re getting that bad in order to make me someone capable of handling something better. And it’s not just me. God is in the process of redeeming this world. Every tragedy, every unjust act, every hardship, it all means something. It’s leading to something better. The world ends in a heavenly city, in feasting and bright sunshine, in tears being wiped from every eye and every nation’s wounds being healed.

So hardship is a nuisance, a trial, an enemy to be defeated. It’s something getting between me and where God wants me to be. God has better plans for me than this. So I refuse to be defeated. I will not be. I cannot be. I already know how the story ends. What right does life have to think it can keep me down?

Depression, for me, ends in pissedness, in stubborn refusal to let doubt, loss, sadness, and worry win. It’s not long after I reach that point that I begin to feel 1) thankful, and 2) bulletproof. I thank God for loving me and promising me eventual victory. And I feel bulletproof because I know that no matter how bad it gets, it will never get so bad that things won’t change direction and get better.

Hope is not fluffy and warm, made of sweet dreams and naivete. It is built out of stubbornness and grit. It is built out of refusal to believe in ultimate failure, despite all evidence to the contrary. But it is not built on *my* grit, on *my* strength. It comes from resting on another’s strength. It comes from a complete and utter trust, a reckless commitment, an almost blind faith in a holy, all-loving Almighty.

People ask me what my testimony is. I was in church for most of my conscious life. I was raised in Christian schools reading Christian literature and soaked deep in Scripture. I do not remember a time when I could have been called pagan. But if you ask what the foundation of my life is, and how I keep on going, this is it. Stubborn hope, built on faith in an invisible, all-loving, Almighty God. That is my testimony.

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