Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Character and Hope

God connects hope to our character – our integrity.  That’s worth my time to ponder when I see my circumstances as bleak.

but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Romans 5:3-5 NIV

Hope or a lack of it, God shows, is an attitude issue. Ever feel bugged about someone else’s attitude? Or your own? I know sometimes I get on my own nerves in this area.

So, I could use more integrity, more character, and more hope from time to time. Am I alone in this? I doubt it. Still, while it’s good to evaluate my attitudes honestly, I need to remember the hope I really have been given.

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all the same testings we do, yet did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT

God acknowledges our trials and difficulties. Yet, I want to hold onto the eternal perspective that Christ rescued me from the consequences of my own mistakes, not always easy in a visibly broken world. I want to hold onto the attitude that helps me remember the reward of Heaven, the reward of purpose, the reward of life with God. A life of character and hope? Yes, please. 

©Copyright 2012 Helene Bergren All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Unexpected beauty.
The evening sky in Belize.
Jan. 2005.

My communications career leads me to writing about the complexities of the commodity markets one day, and the sweetness of family farms the next. I didn’t expect that.

When I was in high school, I didn’t expect to receive back my ACT scores and discover my math score at the top.

I didn’t expect that I would travel to the South Pacific, Belize, Navajoland, New England or the Outer Banks.

I thought maybe I’d live in a castle with my All-American family, and sure, challenges would come our way, but they wouldn’t really throw me off course. All my great plans would work.

But I’ve re-discovered over the last few years that even plans that may be God’s for my life don’t necessarily happen on my Facebook timeline where I would place them. Some of them seem logical, fitting. But still, God doesn’t bring them to fruition in my life, and I hear clearly from Him that a dream I wanted, just isn’t His best for me.

Now and then, He shocks me at how He does use me. That person asked me for my suggestions. Why would anyone so practically perfect need my input?  She admires how I pray. Seriously? I admire how she prays, seems more appropriate. Sometimes, I finish a project to help a friend, or one for work or ministry on time, and I know God showered me with grace and ability.

Around midnight Boaz suddenly woke up and turned over. He was surprised to find a woman lying at his feet!
Ruth 3:8 NLT

Shocking today, right? Let alone back in the day, the Old Testament day. Yet, God was at work. Ahem. Read about it for yourself.

God’s so like that. He works in ways we don’t expect. Sometimes we like His ways, and honestly, sometimes we don’t. His ways surprise us. Sometimes we find Him mysterious.

We, of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground, but it's not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so. God's wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don't find it lying around on the surface. It's not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. The experts of our day haven't a clue about what this eternal plan is. If they had, they wouldn't have killed the Master of the God-designed life on a cross. That's why we have this Scripture text: No one's ever seen or heard anything like this, Never so much as imagined anything quite like it— What God has arranged for those who love him. But you've seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you.
1 Corinthians 2:6-10 The Message (emphasis mine)

Now that doesn’t mean we’ll instantly understand each step where He leads. But we have that glimpse; we’re learning to look at all things eternally.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-10 NLT

No wonder He surprises me, and you. No wonder I feel tension and confusion. No wonder I am brought to tears, and to my knees, and to singing way louder than my talent, all with joy and gratitude. If His ways and thoughts didn’t challenge me and show me greater love, greater everything, I wouldn’t be worshipping much of a God.

But I know I am.

©Text and photo Helene Bergren 2012. All rights reserved.
 All Scripture copied from