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Excerpt for Encompassed in Hopelessness: a Journey of Faith to Find Hope by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


Encompassed In Hopelessness: a Journey of Faith to find Hope


Copyright 2018 PR Huckans

Published by PR Huckans at Smashwords




Smashwords Edition License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please return to Smashwords.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.





Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction

The Need for Hope

The Need for Faith

The Magnitude of Forgiveness

Forgive and Forget

Amazing Grace

Fresh Eyes

Making Choices

Why Are We Here?

Losing Faith

The Bigger Picture

Asking for Help

Spiritual Recharge

Changing our Appearance

Inner Demons

Who are We?

First Impressions

Lost Resources

Quiet Teachers

Taming the Tongue

Impressionable Minds

Living Free

Conclusion

About the Author

Preface

“To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul;

in you I trust, O my God.

Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.

No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame...for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

Psalm 25:1-5.




Thanks to Bob Scullion…it was a good title for a book! Thanks again to Paul Forshey for his continued support, knowledge, and editing skills—I take full responsibility for any and all mistakes (only in this book…not all of life in general)!





Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New International Version, Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society, published by Zondervan.


Introduction

The theme of my first book, How to be Content in a World Full of Malcontents, centered on learning to cope with the many trials and tribulations that life throws at us.  I emphasized the application of the lost art of "sucking it up" for a world full of complainers and malcontents. While that advice is much needed in today's society and absolutely applies to most of us and our day to day gripes and situations, it doesn't quite cut it when it comes to another group of individuals...those dealing with the harsher atrocities of life.  Those in situations most of us dread to ponder, let alone encounter.

There are ever increasing multitudes in this world dealing with Alzheimer's, cancers, long, painful, drawn out illnesses, some while still in the prime of their lives.  Others are trying to cope with the untimely deaths of those they love, senseless violence, the gruesome realities of war, genocide, loss of country, family and home.  There is so much physical, emotional and spiritual heartache and pain, death and disease, manmade and natural disasters that "Suck it up, buttercup" isn't appropriate advice for those undergoing such trials. So what advice do they get? What are they supposed to do when they become lost in their despair? When they feel all hope is gone?  How are they supposed to cope with the overwhelming burdens that would emotionally, and possibly physically, crumple others of us into quivering heaps of flesh?  What guidance do they receive in order to deal with the enormous burdens they bear?  Hope and faith.   Hope in a better future--knowing that this sometimes painful life is fleeting and momentary in the overall scheme of things and that an indescribable eternity awaits.  Faith in a loving savior--believing that He holds that spot in heaven for those persevering through their painful trials all while believing in his power and his sacrifice.  Hope and faith.  There may not be a stronger combination of thoughts, words, or values in the English language.

With this book I hope to extend a helping hand to those encompassed in hopelessness. Those that may sadly believe that there is nothing more to this existence than slowly sliding back into the darkness from which we first emerged. Those that are surrounded by an unfaithful multitude living lukewarm lives devoid of any purpose or any hope in a better tomorrow.  Those that may have had a measure of faith, but have lost hope during their pains and struggles. Anyone that feels they have nowhere left to turn, no one left to trust, no one that could possibly understand how they feel, what they need, or why they need it. Those surrounded by the darkness of hopelessness crushing inward from every angle. I sincerely want to share the hope I have found, to help you find a measure of faith and give you a reason to search more deeply into an area that perhaps you haven’t considered or may have dismissed altogether...the source of all hope.


If we don't have any hope, if we can't find our faith--what else awaits us? What can the future possibly hold for us besides being fearful of returning to the dust from whence we came? When we’ve tried our best, wished all our wishes, cried our waterfalls, and yet continue to lack a much needed relief, a much needed cure, a much needed enigmatic missing something in this fallen world, we must still always be able to make room for hope. We must make room for the power of God. We must not rely solely on our own strength or understanding. Our flesh may be weak, our minds troubled, but we must be strong in our faith, our hope….our sight of the freedom and future that the Lord offers--because sometimes, it may be all we have and yet all we need.


The Need for Hope

Hope is defined as the wanting of something to happen or to be true, to desire something with the expectation of obtainment or fulfillment.  Faith on the other hand is defined as a firm belief or complete trust in something for which there is no proof, believing something with an especially strong conviction (both according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary). Hope without faith is inadequate--useless and frustrating.  There can be no use in a hope without faith because you have to have faith in order to believe that something, anything, will happen. To have faith that someone or something will intervene on your behalf.  To know that there is a higher force out there that controls what we cannot.  You have to have some measure of faith to believe that we aren't just living day to day for no reason, no purpose, and then falling to the ground as leaves of a tree at the end of our season. “Hope is not a method,” according to Gordon Sullivan and often quoted by my youngest daughter.  Hope is not used to achieve a goal, it's a reward for effort. In other words hope needs action to make it real, feasible….and that action, in this case, is faith.  


Make no mistake, faith is indeed an action.  It is an active choice that must be made, a conviction that must be taken to heart and leaned upon when everything else feels shaky.  Faith is a critical support when the world around you feels unstable and unreliable. Therefore, faith must have a firm foundation, otherwise, unfortunately it too can be shaken, leaving us nothing on which to stand.  Faith can falter when the worst in life occurs, when we need it the most, but it must be regained, reinforced and strengthened if we are to have any chance of success, in order for our hopes to become realities.


A majority of the people in this world are encompassed in hopelessness. Envision standing on a small, solitary, sinking island under a moonless night, completely surrounded by a dark, dangerous, raging sea lapping at your ankles, with no salvation in sight, no sounds within range except the ravaging winds of the ever-circling storm. That’s often how we feel inside while we attempt to put on a brave front for those around us, those that are also sinking on their own private islands of despair. Some understand the need for something, but they don’t quite know what that something is. Some have yet to fully realize their dire situation while others simply attempt to ignore it, possibly by dulling the sensations of life through drugs and alcohol. Still others struggle under the oppressive, depressing weight of life and the impending unknown.  They don’t know where to turn, and so they idolize themselves and rely on their own powers and abilities, and yet when the distractions of the storms of life quiet down, when the silence seeps in and contemplation rears its inevitable head, they feel lost and empty--hopeless.


The world is hurting and losing its hope...it's sight of God.  Church attendance is at an all time low.  Church doors are permanently closing at unprecedented rates.  Immorality, decadent lifestyles and violence are becoming accepted norms. The once faithful flock is slowly slipping into a faithless existence, often indistinguishable from the rest of the population.  There are those who feel God has forgotten about us, doesn't care about us, or that He never existed in the first place.  There are also, sadly, those that once believed but that have lost their faith for one reason or another.  


Our hearts are hardening gradually, but very surely, because our faith is not being reinforced by sight at this time in history.  We aren’t living in a time with a touchable savior that heals with a thought or word. We aren’t first hand witnesses to the calming of seas, the withering of trees, the life giving caresses. We tend to believe only what we see and hear and whatever bolsters our individual, particular spin on the reason for our existence.  With so many things pulling us here and there, we don’t want to spend the time researching the possibility of His truth.  We don’t want to “waste” a precious moment of our lives proving that our existence isn’t under our control.  We don’t want to have to answer to anyone but our self and we want to set our own standards for justice.  We want to be our own “gods”.


With each step society takes further away from faith in God and hope for a better eternity, it's no wonder that there is such despondency, such disregard for human life and morality. Why bother? Why would anyone want to put forth the effort to live within the “constraints” of decency if there were no hope of something better awaiting us? If this world is all there is, then why not live in it as if you were a god, as if everyone were here to serve you? “Survival of the fittest,” “only the strong survive!” 1 Corinthians 15:19 states that “if only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” Our delusion would be complete and we would have acted admirably for no reason--with an empty hope and no reward.  But our hope in Christ is not unfounded and it is not as temporal as this short life. If we truly believe and accept what He offers us, there is indeed a much needed hope for an eternal reward.


Deep down (or maybe not so deeply), we know that we are gods without power, without an ounce of real control. We can try to control people, situations, money, but ultimately we know we are powerless when it comes to the things that really matter...life, health, pain, longevity, love.  “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6:27.  When we feel lost, empty and all alone, when we have exerted our “power” and nothing has happened, when we’ve tried “everything” and find that nothing about our situation has changed, instead of giving up and becoming encompassed in hopelessness, we need to ask ourselves what harm could come by looking to a higher power? What harm could come of giving our “power” over to God--letting him be strong in our weakness and humility?  “My power is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:10.  What harm could come from letting go and letting God do what he so dearly desires to do?  Letting Him take control of the life that we obviously have no real control over? Trying something different.  


What if the hopeless, spiritually drifting multitudes that surround us are wrong?  Have you considered that?  What if they’re wrong and there is a God? A divine purpose to our lives? A power beyond our understanding who created the very universe in which we live and allowed us each breath we’ve taken thus far? Have you really tried “everything”?  Have you tried letting go of your illusions of power and humbling yourself by asking for help from one that has the power to give it?  Have you tried supplication, prayer and faith in the unseen, a belief in God?


Those of us that believe in Christ and God have nothing to fear.  If we’re wrong, no harm no foul.  We’ve lived our lives attempting to hurt no one and tried to treat those around us well, living within the “constraints” of morality; we’ve made an effort to live free of guilt. If the multitudes are wrong, then a painful, depressing, hopeless existence plagues them in this life and a fiery lake with endless torment and gnashing of teeth awaits them in the next for all eternity. Why is that choice so difficult to make?  Why is our limited “power” so hard to relinquish?


The upside to faith in God is obvious: He is able to give us relief from the pain of this life. It may come in the curing of our disease, the comfort of a timely guardian angel, or simply in the form of a calming hope...something different and better to look forward too.  The downside to faith is a bit trickier:  you’d have to acknowledge His power, existence, and His purpose for your life...and therefore change your ways and your ways of thinking.  Not much of a downside.  It doesn’t seem like that difficult of a choice to me, but we each have to examine our own lives, our own choices; to decide if it’s worth it to us to ignore the outstretched hand he offers.  Worth it to give up the lying, stealing, cheating, cursing and all the little “innocuous” things we do to get ahead in this world when we think no one is looking.  Worth it to surrender our self-seeking path we’ve chosen in this life to follow Him and His will, to accept His rules and master plan that we aren’t privy too. Worth it to acknowledge our lack of power, our need for help and our extreme vulnerability.


Is denying Him really worth that high of a risk? Are we really that satisfied with our lives and our incomplete understanding of our purpose (or lack thereof) in this world?  Is it worth that much of an eternal gamble just so we don’t have to humble ourselves before our creator?  Couldn’t we use the help, the peace of mind, the hope for better things? I, for one, often feel comforted by the thought that I am under the watchful, loving eye of the only being that knows how things are going to end up and that everything else is out of my control. Let me put it another way, in whom or what else can we put our hope for improving our lives? “Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.” Psalm 22:11. If we already feel overwhelmed and powerless in our situations, if we’ve already tried “everything,” if we have lost our faith in humanity, if we have nowhere else to put our hope--where else are we going to turn? Who or what else has a chance of helping us? The power to help us?  


When we find ourselves scared and desperate, we’ll usually do one of two things: cling to and claw toward any lifeline within our reach or alienate everyone around us by pushing them away while trying to put on a brave, prideful front. The problem with option number one is that we may cling to things and people that won't support us, that will let us down and thus fall deeper into our despair.  The problem with option number two is obvious and redundant...we’ve been there already.  We’ve tried self reliance, we’ve tried alone--and neither of those things gives us the change or the hope we ultimately need.  As difficult as it may be, we must take a moment to evaluate, to break the cycle--to let go of our pride and “power” and to make certain that what we’re clawing toward is actually able to sustain us.


Belief in God and Jesus will not solve all our problems.  We live in a fallen world--a mire of our own making leading to our eventual destruction. When we call to Him in hope and despair, He may not choose to relieve us in each, every, or any circumstance, but HE CAN!  Who else, what else, can claim to do so?  Where else could we actually turn for help to deal with pain, struggles, deaths--the abundance of problems in this life that cause some of us to turn our backs on Him?  Nowhere. Any suggestion would ultimately prove faulty and leave us more hopeless, more bitter….weaker than before.  Take strength in Him. Have faith in Him and give yourself the hope that he paid so dearly for...we really have nothing to lose.


The Need for Faith

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1. It’s taking a step into the unknown in order to gain a better foothold for walking a new path.  We desperately need and want to find new paths because we know the one we’re currently treading upon isn’t leading to where we want to go. But what does it mean to have faith?  How do we take that first step toward the relief the Lord offers? It would be a hollow gesture if the first step wasn’t the leap of faith that God does exist.  The belief that He can hear you, that He can heal you, that He can forgive you.  Belief that He created the world, created you for a purpose and that in his infinite wisdom sent his son to clear the way for you to work toward that purpose...if only you can accept those facts, not understand them fully, but accept them.  “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities...have been clearly seen...so that men are without excuse.” Romans 1:20.


That so called “leap of faith” isn’t blind or that far fetched when a bit of study is applied. Jesus was a real man whose accomplishments to fulfill a mathematically impossibly number of prophecies are recorded in many different historical documents by many different historians.  Facts are facts.  There are multiple tomes and resources out there that can shed some light on the mystery of our God and the evidence of his existence.  I suggest you spend some time reading some of them, studying them, then ultimately opening the book that really matters, His inspired word (or you could simply skip straight to the source and spend your time where it really matters). The Bible is a compilation of His and our interactions, the continuing, living story of our savior, what he has done for us and his expectations for us.  “All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17. The scriptures are not, as often stated, a stagnant history book, made up by men to control our minds and actions to serve their will.  “For the word of God is living and active.” Hebrews 4:12.  The gospel is full of useful information, a wonderful source of hope and faith to help us transform our lives.  It is an ongoing love note meant to give us purpose and understanding in a confusing, tempting world.


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