Just A Thought

The Start Stops Most

By Bishop John W. Hanson

Sharia leaned back in her chair, trembling. She wasn’t sure if she should laugh or cry and didn’t really understand the torrent of emotions that were flooding through her heart as she read the letter for the fourth time. The opportunity was incredible--literally unbelievable. Her application had been approved. A fortune 500 company was willing to give her the job of her dreams. It was her big break!

“So, why am I feeling hesitant?” she wondered. “Should I call them and tell them it was all a big mistake?” It was a no-brainer to take the job. It was everything she had ever wanted. She had applied for it, and even prayed for it. But, now that she held the acceptance letter in her hand, she was overwhelmed with fear. “I must be going crazy,” she thought, “what is going on with me?”

Even as those questions flashed through her mind she instinctively knew the answers. She was feeling hesitant because everyone important in her life had repeatedly reminded her that she was lacking. She was not crazy, she just didn’t want to hope, because she had hoped before, many times, and she had usually been so disappointed. Life had taught her not to get too excited about new adventures. People had counseled her to curb her enthusiasm. The pain of trying and failing had been so significant that she would rather deal with guaranteed failure than risk believing in success only to fall short again.

The number of people who can relate to Sharia might be surprising. Hope is such a wonderful thing that when it is not fulfilled it can be devastating to the heart. Cynicism and pessimism seem much safer than hope and optimism. Life can be brutal, and failure can feel so lonely. How does one survive, let alone thrive in the uphill endeavor of life? There are so many times that the start stops people from living adventures; they just don’t have the courage to step out.

The solution may be a simple change of focus. Instead of hoping in ourselves, our circumstances, or other people, what if we hoped in a good God who does not fix the world, but who empowers and comforts people so they can tackle life as it buffets and refines them? What if we embraced the fact that we will have setbacks and failures, understanding that those human traits need not define us? God invites us to take a journey with Him. Our success is not measured by what we accomplish or how much good fortune we have, it is measured by how much we let God help us deal with whatever we encounter.

God promises never to leave or forsake us (see Hebrews 13:15) and He promises to supply every need according to His resources (see Philippians 4:19). If you put your faith in God, life is no longer a matter of your performance; it is a matter of hoping in someone so much bigger than anything you will ever encounter. Believing this can give you the courage to make a fresh start… to hope again. It can help you believe that success is possible. There is so much good life to live, but the start stops most.