Posted tagged ‘hope’

How to Keep the Proverbial Fat lady Offstage

August 4, 2016

by Dr. Steven J. Callis

 

            You have heard it, and likely have said it yourself:  it ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings.  The original use of the phrase has been attributed to sports journalist Ralph Carpenter in 1976, referring to a surprising comeback by the Texas Tech men’s basketball team to tie the game.  Someone said to Carpenter that it appeared the game was going to be close after all, to which he replied, “Right.  The opera isn’t over until the fat lady sings.”

            The reference, of course, is to the stereotypical image of an overweight opera soprano singing the finale, and is actually traced back to a specific opera and its soprano soloist, Amalie Materna.  The colloquial phrase is not meant to offensively profile such singers, rather it has come to mean that one cannot necessarily know the outcome of a given circumstance until is actually happens.  Until that moment, there is still hope that a bad situation can turn itself around.

            My eldest brother is 68 years of age.  Over recent years he has experienced several difficult health issues, including hip replacement and neck surgery.  However, this retired psychologist and university professor is not quite ready to surrender to the physical and emotional challenges that tend to accompany aging.  Last week on a trip to Florida he completed his training and is now a certified scuba diver; not too shabby for a mid-America resident where scuba diving is not a typical sport for that geographical area.

            We are a family that likes to laugh and joke.  I told him I did not even know he could swim!  One of his sons commented that this was no mid-life moment, but an end-life moment.  My brother remarked of himself that if the saying is true that “you’re only as old as you feel,” he must have reached triple figures.

            Whether referring to age of life, the score in a game, a pending medical test result, or any other difficult place in your life, refuse to lose hope and, instead, cling to your faith.  Do not allow the proverbial fat lady to come out on stage for the finale until it really is her turn to sing; or if you prefer Yogi Berra’s similar proverb, remember that “It ain’t over till it’s over.” 

            The ability to cling to that hope, by the way, is ultimately linked to your belief system, which is the true source of your hope.  Dr. David Busic recently wrote, “Christian hope is not the power of positive thinking.  It is not based on circumstances, good or bad.  It is not new and better ideas, utopian philosophies, or reformed politics.  Christian hope is objectively focused on the person of Jesus Christ who has been revealed to us as the ‘grace of God,’ ‘the salvation of all people,’ and our ‘blessed hope.’  Hope in anything else will not give us what we are looking for…”

            Nearly two centuries ago Edward Mote put it this way: “On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.”  May you find your hope to be sufficient today.

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My Source of Hope

July 30, 2015

By Dr. Steven J. Callis

In our challenging English language, some people confuse hope with wishful thinking. For example, “I hope the Braves win a spot in the playoffs.” Because hope is a genuine trust or expectation, the use of the term in that example only expresses a wish.

True hope means that we trust our life, present and future, to an object or person. I like sports, and I root for the Braves, but my life and future do not depend on their making the playoffs. I “hope” they do; I “wish” they would, but I have not staked my life on their success.

Among the list of those who have spoken or written on the significance of hope, Thomas Pettepiece wrote, “When there is no hope, there is no life. Without hope we give up – – we lose our will to fight, to trust, to live.” So, it is appropriate that each of us evaluate the source of our hope today.

The trend of our nation these days is to demand personal rights regardless of how it affects others, and to make such demands on the premise of political correctness. These challenges, some recent and others longstanding, may cause us to wonder if there are any existing values that are off limits to special-interest groups and political agendas. Some citizens would claim that even the Constitution itself is being ignored for the sake of personal and political interests.

Are there no traditions valuable enough to save? Are there no absolutes on which we can depend anymore? Can we survive on the philosophy that something is right or correct only when approved by my own selfish, personal standards?

Pettepiece proposed that we cannot hope in ourselves, our technology, our government, our laws, our tenacity, our courage, or our will, though these things are all necessary to conquer today’s woes and provide justice. Our only hope, he declares, is in God alone.

For those of us who agree with him, our hope has come under serious attack over recent months, even years. As the challenges become more frequent and broader in scope, it could be that we lose sight of the Source of our hope, and then hope wanes, as does our will to fight and trust.

Edward Albert Day once wrote of God, “There is nothing that at any time diminishes His perfections, dilutes His redemptive powers…God is always God.”

Who or what is the source of your hope today? What drives you to awaken each morning and face your day with confidence and purpose? The Psalmist proclaimed, “I lift my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.” God is always God, and you can trust in Him.

I Was Afraid of That!

December 7, 2012

I Was Afraid of That

Steven J. Callis

Among the longest words I have ever seen: hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia.  If you are still reading, then you likely are not plagued by this mental disorder.  The 15-syllable word is the term used to identify persons who have an overwhelming fear of long words.  Like symptoms associated with many other fears, a person with this disorder may experience dry mouth, panic, crying, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, and so on.

I have not found a website or institution that identifies the exact number of registered phobias, though one article suggests that there are more phobias than there are people!  These phobias are more than simple fear, but an overwhelming anxiety that cannot be controlled.  They include something as common as a fear of heights (acrophobia) to the almost nonsensical arachibutyrophobia (the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one’s mouth).

Even if they are merely perceived, fears are real to the person experiencing them.  And while you may not suffer from a debilitating phobia, all persons experience some level of fear in certain situations, based on a real or perceived threat or danger.  One imagined solution would be to call on that super-canine who always spoke in rhymes, “There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here!”  But is there a more realistic answer?

The Bible’s repetitive exhortation to not be afraid appears not as a chastisement, rather, it is a word of hope and encouragement, in that it usually appears in context with the promise that the Lord can be trusted in every circumstance.  Peace, like fear, is an emotional reaction to one’s state of mind, which is strengthened by confidence in God’s power, wisdom, and grace.

I was shopping in a store last week where there was a sizable display of cowboy knickknacks.  There was a John Wayne coffee mug with this quote on it: “courage is being scared to death – but saddling up anyway.”  Take heart today in the promise of Jesus to those who follow His Way, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” You can trust Him today.