When Faith Isn’t Enough

Another day, another night. Wake up, get the kids breakfast, go do some work, eat lunch, work some more. Come home, eat dinner, talk to Maile. Bedtime, supervise the brushing of teeth. Go into the room 6,723 times to say, “Be quiet.” Write some more before bed. Fall asleep while reading Brennan Manning on the glowing screen of my phone, in the dark.

In the dark.

Day after day passes, and I realize I can get by with much less than I thought. Week after week slips into the rear view, and my inner self adjusts to this new, lower watermark of comfort. But if I’m not careful, the trust in God that I long to experience gives way to a sense of malaise, and a feeling of calloused contentment.

Oh well, it is tempting to think, this must be as good as it gets. Perhaps the most difficult part about this life of faith is to keep from mistaking callousness for trust. A numbing lack of worry isn’t trust. True trust in God is so much more than finding a comfortable equilibrium.

“Faith in God without hope in his promises is tainted trust,” writes Brennan Manning in Ruthless Trust.

Faith without hope relegates faith to a coping mechanism. It can turn faith into nothing more than  4 1/2 hours of television each day (the national average). It can be my pint of Ben and Jerry’s.

But faith with hope? That’s what injects joy into this walk. Faith with hope feels vulnerable, tender to the touch, like fingertips freshly healed from a burn. Faith with hope means staying vulnerable when I want to withdraw, truthful when I’d rather deceive, unmasked. Faith with hope appears naive to many of those around us.

Poor little child, they mumble to one another. He still thinks he can make a difference. He still has confidence that he can do great things. He still believes.

I do. I have to believe. I have to hope. Because faith without hope is tainted trust, and I’ve felt real trust, perhaps only for moments in my life, but I’ve felt it. And I want to live in that space, not of calloused apathy, but of tender, vulnerable hope.

How do you keep hoping?

10 Replies to “When Faith Isn’t Enough”

  1. Sometimes I have to step back and look at the big picture. I don’t know that it will get better here. But it will get better. If I really believe what God says through His word, and I do, then life here is the tiniest of fractions of my eternal life. Most of my eternal life is going to be one awesome event.

  2. I’ve begun meeting with a spiritual director who pointed out to me that there is a difference between resignation and surrender, and I think hope accounts for much of that difference. I can only surrender when I know who I’m surrender to, and I have to believe that Person is powerful and good and for me.

    And times when my hope wears thin, I ask that person for some glimpses of it. I’m not always good at that walking by faith, not sight thing. So I ask to see where God is at present and at work. Sometimes asking is evidence enough for me to believe I still have hope.

  3. Sometimes…I don’t. I want to live in tender hope, too, but there are still days when I can’t find it and when that tainted trust is all I can manage to muster.

  4. Thanks for putting words and understandable expression to tumbling, windswept thoughts. This is indeed refreshing that “one among us” is gifted with adequate clarity of mind to help us all realize that the tender taste of goodness and aromas of reality have been experienced, and are truly there – way better than even a good dream. OUR MAKER IS ON THE THRONE… Caring more for us than we can care for ourselves. Thanks Again Shawn

  5. Hey bro – this was refreshing to read today. I feel like God is using these times to develop new levels of depth in your writing. I am constantly encouraged by the raw realities that you share with us. Thank you.

  6. I talk so much about having strong faith, but not about having strong hope. It’s easy to say, “I have faith that God will work this out for my good”, but I’m so often afraid to hope that “good” will not involve pain or sacrifice. Where did I get the idea that God’s good always involves pain? I think it’s because faith implies that no matter what the outcome, it is God’s perfect will, but hope opens the door for disappointment when the answer to a prayer is “no”.

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