"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." (Hebrews 6:19)
Years ago during a class assignment in a high school in Asia, I presented my 10th-grade students with a list of 10 WHO questions for them to write down. One of the questions asked, “Who do you trust in the most?” After writing, reading, and discussing all 10 questions together, I then wrote out 10 answers on the chalkboard to see if they could match each question and answer correctly. One of the answers I provided said “I trust in my parents the most.” Later on, as I graded everyone's assignment, I came across many who had decided to edit the answer I had provided and write the word “MYSELF” in place of their parents: "I trust in myself the most."
I imagine if I had changed the answer to “I BELIEVE in _____ the most” or “I HOPE in _____ the most”, I would have gotten the same pronoun.
To be honest, this didn't really surprise me. After all, this was a school whose theme song was a rock ballad popular throughout the country titled "Xin Zi Ji 信自己" (Trust Yourself)
On the one hand, I understood and even admired my students for their independent, self-confident spirit. They no doubt would have agreed with the motto “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” And in life, in many ways, this is true. Why rely on others when they may let you down and disappoint you? Even your parents can’t be there for you forever.
But is it really wise to put your full trust and hope in yourself? For every human being who walks the earth, there comes a time when our own frailty is undeniable. Our weakness, inescapable. We can only trust in ourselves for so long…until we realize we are truly, honestly, and completely helpless in the end.
This brings to mind another group of very independent and self-confident people who had an encounter with Jesus in the Bible. Andrew, Peter, James, and John were tough, strong, hard-working, and seasoned fishermen, and at Jesus’ invitation to become “fishers of men”, they all walked away from their boats, nets, and livelihoods to follow Him. No doubt they were intrigued by Jesus’ words, but even more by His power. These men had a front-row seat to Jesus’ miracles and as His chosen disciples they were able to bask in His growing fame and be admired by the massive crowds seeking Jesus’ attention and help. It’s easy to imagine these men growing more prideful and confident in themselves until one unsuspecting evening when Jesus completely shattered all of their self-trust, self-confidence, and self-hope:
That day when evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:35-41)
Why would Jesus put his closest friends through such a frightening and helpless experience? To teach them a crucial, life-changing lesson: He alone can save. He alone is our Hope. Hold on to Him for dear life. Trust Him completely.
"We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you." (Psalm 33:20-22)