By Ron Price
Have you heard the term “oxymoron?” The official definition I found online at Merriam-Webster is “a combination of contradictory or incongruous words” (such as cruel kind- ness). Some of my personal favorites are “sanitary landfill,” “act naturally,” and “pretty ugly.” My all-time favorite has to be “Microsoft Works,” but that is a topic for another time.
Perhaps the most ludicrous oxymoron I know is “hopeless Christian.” Now please don’t get me wrong. Being a Christian certainly does not guarantee one a smooth and problem-free life. In fact, quite the contrary. In the Gospels, Jesus clearly told us that as His followers we should expect hardships, difficulties, and perilous times. We will experience times when all seems hopeless but we are also told clearly that as believers and followers of the Savior, we can have hope and joy in the midst of unpleasant circumstances and hardships. In Philippians 4:7, we are promised “peace that passes all understanding.”
I believe it starts with being at peace with God. Once you are at peace with God, you can far more easily be at peace with yourself. If the God of the Universe, who knows you better than you know yourself, loves you and considers you to be of such worth that He would send His only Son to die for you, then you have every right to be at peace with your- self. And, once you are at peace with yourself, you can far more easily be at peace with others. This, in turn, will help you to, as Peter says, “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have . . . with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
When you are discouraged and hopeless, I can just about guarantee that your focus is on you, your situation, and your own ability (or lack thereof) to get yourself out of that situation. With that being the case, you have every right to be discouraged and hopeless. But therein lies the problem. In Isaiah 26:3, God tells us that He will keep us in perfect peace if our minds are focused on Him. Space limitations forbid me from quoting other similar verses, but take some time to look up Jer. 29:11, Ps. 3:2-6, Ps. 42:11, Isa. 40:31, Rom. 15:13, and so many more.
As Seventh-day Adventists, we should be daily examples of hope and encouragement. We understand the truth about Jesus’ Second (and soon) Coming. We understand the judgment at which God is both our defender and our judge—it’s not really fair, but I won’t complain. We understand that God will mercifully put those who refuse His love to eternal sleep and not supernaturally keep them alive just for the sport of torturing them forever.
Again, while we have ample reason for hope, we far too often fail to maintain it in our day-to-day existence. So let me leave you with a tip that has helped me in the struggle to keep my focus where it needs to be. I have developed several affirmations which I repeat on a regular basis throughout my day. I have set alarms on my cell phone or smartwatch to vibrate every two hours. The vibration reminds me to take a moment away from whatever I am doing and repeat words to the effect of “I am at peace with God, therefore I am at peace with myself, and so I can be at peace with others.” As a businessman, I am often challenged to have goals for the amount of money I want to earn. That does not work for me, but I do have a specific goal for how much money I want to give away this year. Therefore, one of my affirmations is that “I make, manage, and give away large sums of money.”
Another of my favorites is, “I am joyful, uplifting, and calm.” Many who know me would scoff at the “calm” moniker, but it is something I aspire to and affirm in myself.
No one ever said the battle would be easy—at least not in this life where the enemy has the home-field advantage. But I know we will win in the end, and that it is so important for us to follow this counsel from Hebrews 10:23: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”
–Ron Price is a member of the RMC executive committee from Farmington, New Mexico. Email him at: [email protected]