Welcome to our Partner Letters Archive . . .

Dear Partner,

Being in ministry all of these years affords me the opportunity to counsel with many people and to see life from many different perspectives. For example, the holiday season is for some people the most joyous time of the year. For others it is the most depressing time of the year. Many people suffer through terrible bouts of depression during the holidays.

Normal human hope is based largely on what we have experienced in the past. We "hope" to have a good meal at a certain restaurant again because we experienced a good meal the last time we ate there. If we experienced a bad meal the last time then we have little hope that we would have a good one the next time. Based on past experience, we choose not to eat there again.

Past experience, no matter whether it was a good or bad experience, has much to do with our current state of mind, including decisions we make based on our expectations for the future. The phrase "expectations for the future" is another way of describing the biblical word: HOPE! Hope and faith always work together because,

Heb 11:1   Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Without hope, there is nothing for faith to give substance to. Let me share with you a very enlightening experience I had last month while in Bundang, South Korea. The weather was wonderful on a clear, sunshine filled day. The temperature was around 60 degrees. The trees were in their full autumn glory with leaves displaying vivid hues of red and gold.

I was walking along the Han River with two of my closest friends enjoying that perfect day when we passed by an area of trees where dozens and dozens of birds were happily singing away. To my ears it was a beautiful sound and I mentioned to my friends, "Oh, listen to the birds how they are singing." One of my friends said to me, "If an elderly Korean person was walking with us and heard the same sound they would say, 'Listen to the birds how they are weeping.'"

He continued, "In America you always speak of the birds singing, but Korea has experienced much tragedy over the centuries. We have been conquered at various times by the Chinese, the Japanese, and others. Starvation has stalked our nation many times over the centuries. Because of that, when the elderly people hear the birds they automatically conclude that the birds must be weeping."

Then I understood better how tragedy from the past could “depress” all of the joy of this “perfect day” … if it was allowed to do so. The past is over and done with. Nothing can change it at all. To dwell on past tragedy would only serve to diminish the joy of life today. I can certainly understand why the elders would feel that way. But I also understand that living a life that focuses on the tragedy of the past instead of focusing on the HOPE for the future is what causes a person to be “depressed” on a “perfect day” … or to be depressed during the holiday season.

Next month I will celebrate having been on the planet for sixty years. Trust me when I say I have seen my share of both tragic and joyful events during those six decades. What I choose to focus on has much to do with my state of mind in the present and my outlook for the future. I have heard many people say, “I can’t help how I think.” That is not true! It is totally up to each of us what we choose to focus on. Every person has the same choice. The apostle Paul said it this way;

Phil 4:8-9   Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

When it comes to tragic events in our past we can choose to dwell on them and have our attitude clouded with depression, or we can choose (on purpose) to focus on good things for the future. It is for this very reason that I finish many of my letters with the phrase, “THE BEST IS YET TO COME!” I believe that with all of my heart!

Listen to the birds today. They are not weeping for you. They are singing of God's glorious plans for your future.

Jer 29:11   “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” [Living Bible]

Sue and I love you and appreciate you. We thank God for your generous and giving heart. God bless you!

Your friend and co-laborer,

Gary Carpenter


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