Posted by: Mike Willoughby | April 8, 2011

Hope is a Strategy! (Part 3)

Have you ever known someone who always seems to have it together no matter what kind of chaos is swirling around them?  These people not only maintain their composure during crazy times, they navigate through the chaos and create better outcomes for themselves and those around them.  They may seem like ducks that appear to be serenely cruising through the waves when in fact their webbed feet are churning actively below the surface.  Rudyard Kipling wrote about this person in his famous poem, If.

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

I know people like this and I aspire to be more and more like this every day.  What gives them the ability to have this kind of attitude?  My experience tells me that the key factor in being this kind of person is having the right perspective.  It seems that this kind of person is able to see beyond the moment of chaos and trouble and maintain a proper perspective of what the momentary trials really mean in the larger context of their life.  I believe the broader your context, the better your perspective.

Most people gain perspective by focusing on the security of where they have been with the expectation they will return to a secure place.  Persevering through the trials and making the best of each situation is a way of positively progressing through time toward what is hopefully a safer and more secure place than that available during the moment of chaos.  The problem is that there is really no guarantee in this life that conditions will improve.  Sometimes the chaos continues despite our best efforts and our positive can-do attitude.  It requires an eternal perspective to really be able to deal with whatever this life dishes out because it is only in eternity that security and safety is guaranteed.

Because of my complete trust in Jesus Christ to deliver on his promise to prepare a place for me in heaven, I have a hope that does not disappoint.  My destination gives me the perspective to properly deal with the successes and failures of this life knowing that this life is just a vapor.  I enjoy the successes and endure the failures.  I learn from each experience.  However, I do not put my trust in the fruit of the successes nor do I despair from the wreckage of failure.  Trusting in the things of this life is like trusting in the mist for shelter.  All the experiences of life diminish in importance when put into the broader context of eternity.  This is what Paul understood when he wrote these words in Philippians 4:10-13.

I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity.  Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

This week my Grandmother Craig went home to be with the Lord.  She was certain of her destination and she faced death with absolutely no fear.  My family is celebrating her homecoming this week even as we grieve the hole she leaves in our earthly lives.  We know we will see her soon.  Grandma had learned to live in a variety of circumstances.  She lived through almost a century of booms and busts, recessions and depressions, bumper crops and hailed out stubble.  There were times of plenty and there were times of want.  She had 55 wonderful years of marriage with my Grandpa and 17 years apart from him after his death.  She had times of good health and times of illness and injury.  Throughout all the various circumstances of her life, she was content because she had perspective.  I don’t have to read Kipling’s poem to see what it looks like to have the peace and composure that so many find difficult to comprehend.  I know what it looks like because I have seen it in the lives of my Grandparents and in the lives of so many of my other spiritual heroes.

I think it is fitting that I end this series on hope during the week my Grandma achieved her hope.  For Doris Craig hope is…

A place where she now lives in comfort and peace,
                a person in the triune God who she is able to see face-to-face and
                                a perspective that is now crystal clear with no limits in sight.

This is a hope that never disappoints!

Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!

Previous Intersections Articles

Hope is a Strategy! (Part 2) Hope is a Strategy! (Part 1) A Roller Coaster Life for Hope

Copyright © 2011 Michael Willoughby. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to author and/or owner with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. Beautiful! I was very moved and enjoyed your blog greatly. Thank you for touching the lives of so many. I aspire to be more like that daily. Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful women. God bless.

  2. Nicely worded and a tribute to your loved one. Keep the quill handy, friend. You do it justice…

    -Troy Stirman

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