There’s a huge disconnect between hope and reality. For those of us who hope by faith, it can be a problem. We hope because we know God can do anything, but we fail to see the reality.
The reality will show whether what we hope for could happen. We may want a lot of money. Nothing wrong with that; we need money to live. So, we pray and hope God will give us lots of money. But, realistically, do we have the means or skills or resources to do what it takes to get that money?
We tend to ignore our responsibility in doing the necessary to bring about what we are hoping in God for. Our responsibility includes developing the skills and using existent resources and creating new opportunities to get what we are hoping for. It is wrong to hope for God to act and deliver on our hopes if we are not doing what humanly we must do. Oftentimes, the miracle is in growing in our abilities to achieve what we are hoping for God to do.
There’s a downside to this. We stress this is God’s promise to us and stress ourselves and others to make it happen. We fail to realise the pressures we put on ourselves and others, and, in many cases, the pain it causes. What we are doing is actually manipulating or arm-twisting to get what we want in the name of “God’s will”.
Or, we become absurdly passive, saying this is God’s will or promise and do nothing! Going back to the above example, we do nothing to get money. We may try but our efforts may be lukewarm, giving up quickly, believing that if God wanted us to get the money it would happen. And, we don’t try harder and so we don’t get what we want.
If you are the gung-ho A personality type, you’ll probably subscribe to the former point of view. If you are the passive, laid-back type for whom anything is ok, you’ll probably subscribe to the latter point of view.
Whatever your point of view, God keeps His promises. But, that does not mean that every hope we place in Him is God’s will. In the case of the given example, the A type may make it happen by his or her effort, but is that God’s will? The passive type doesn’t make it happen, but is that God’s will?
If the A type is stressing us out with expectations to see God’s will happen, and it is causing a great deal of strife, it might be a good idea to let go of that hope. If the passive type is also causing a great deal of strife by not resolving the issue, it might be a good idea to let go of the hope.
From my experience, the best way to deal with putting our hope in God is to be aware of two points. Firstly — and, this is very important — be surrendered. We put our hope in Him but we are surrendered about what we want. When we have the attitude of surrender, we will know when to stop our actions to get what we want. If it doesn’t happen, it is easy to let go. But, when we surrender and God acts, we know it’s divine intervention.
Secondly — we must understand that somethings we will not get. And, we need to adjust to the situation. In the case of looking for money, if we have tried everything to get lots of money and we don’t get it, we need to accept it and live according to what we have. The fact that this particular hope didn’t materialize does not mean that other things we hope for won’t happen. They will and compensate for the specific things we didn’t get. Back to the given example, we may not have lots of money but we enjoy less stress and enjoy better relationships with family and others. That is also divine intervention, but through faith through our actions as we adjust to what clearly is His will.
We need to face our reality when we hope in God to act. Reality limits what we can do but we do what we must do and leave the rest to God. The “rest” is God’s work, whether through direct intervention or through us by faith.
That’s what I meant when I wished for a more positive political culture in Malaysia. I am trusting God for it and doing what I can. If He acts beyond what I or we can do, great! If He doesn’t, I and we have to adjust to the situation and we’ll be ok as long as we are exercising faith and living it out.
Having said that, I have to add here that, somehow, as I pray for the nation, church, family and friends, I just feel that this year God will act beyond what we can do. I am looking forward to that!