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June, 2001

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Hope, Value, and Power
by Leonard J. Pellman

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My wife was deeply involved with the counseling of families who were traumatized by the school shootings at Santana High School and Granite Hills High School near San Diego, California. She was profoundly affected by the devastating effect these shootings had on students and their families. As she and I discussed the shootings and examined the lives of the perpetrators of recent school violence throughout the United States, we noticed three common traits: (1) hopelessness, (2) worthlessness, and (3) powerlessness. All three of these factors appeared to be at the core of their self-image.

On May 6, 2001, I was re-reading a familiar old passage in the book of Ephesians in the Bible, and I was startled to find all three of these factors mentioned in a single sentence in this letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus almost 2,000 years ago! Here is what he said:

"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe." (Ephesians 1:18-19a, NASB).

There it is, spelled out far more clearly than anything I have written in my Topic of the Month articles! Those who accept God's calling on their lives receive a certain hope in that calling -- the hope of the sum-total of all of God's promises at work in their lives. Believers can also know that they have great value -- "the riches of the glory of His inheritance" -- so great a value that God Himself was willing to die in order that we could receive it! And lastly, believers have power -- not our own might or abilities; but the power of God Almighty working in our lives.

I am not at all surprised that the Bible contained the answer to this tragedy. I have found the Bible to contain the answer to every issue, question, and problem in life. It did surprise me, however, to stumble onto this verse more than a month after I wrote an article about it here at the Web Dojo. And frankly, it did surprise me that all three factors -- hope, value, and power -- would be mentioned in the same sentence in the scriptures. It surprised me, because it was an apparent confirmation that my wife and I had correctly recognized the root issues at work in the lives of those who turn to violence in their despair and destroy their own lives along with the lives of others.

It also confirmed for me that the solution to the problem of school violence will not be found in social programs, gun control legislation, metal detectors in schools, or sensitivity training for bullies. The solution can only be found when people find a genuine source of hope, value, and power in their lives. When that source is nothing more than a hollow statement you make to yourself, it will not be enough to sustain you in the darkest of times. But, when that source is the God Who created the universe by simply speaking it into existence, the God who has spent thousands of years demonstrating His love for us, the value He has designed into us, the price He is willing to pay for us, and the power He will give to us, then it is a rock-solid assurance that will sustain us, even in our most difficult days.

If you don't fully know that you have hope and value and power, I urge you to e-mail me personally or call me. I will not judge you. I will not pester you. I will not force my beliefs on you. I will only answer your questions as God gives me wisdom, and give you suggestions on how to find the answers you seek. Your faith is your personal choice; not something I can give you or force upon you (see "Religion and Karate"), so you can rest assured that I will not lead you anywhere you would not willingly go.

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2003   Leonard J. Pellman



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