What do you do when you are faced with insurmountable odds, when the world has crashed in on you--either emotionally or literally? How do you make sense of the things in life that don't make sense, when you have lost your job or your health or your spouse? How do you cope when life throws its best of its worst at you? Where do you go for relief or solace or peace?
Hope is the thing that sustains us and motivates us to keep on living and trying even when we wonder why we do it. Hope is the force within us that makes it all okay and tells us that we can continue to face each day. Hope pushes us forward and makes us search for new realities so that we will discover resurrection even in the face of death.
I have a new reality that I never thought would happen to me. I and my mother are the only surviving members of our family of origin. This reality became final just about two months ago when my only brother died. He was my older brother and he died of a stroke and cancer at the age of 64. My younger sister died nearly nine years ago at the age of 45. My father died about five years ago at the age of 86. So, my mother who is nearly 88 has only me left of the family that she and my father formed. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that it would be her and me left to carry on. I figured my older brother would be the one to carry on and be responsible and do all that mom needed to be done because that was his role in life, the one he seemed to choose for himself after my father became ill and died. My mother became very dependent upon him and it seemed to work out for them for her to call on him when she needed something.
But death does not give us a multiple choice of who will go and who will remain. Instead, we take what life gives us and deal with it. So, my nearly 88 year old mother who lives 200 miles from me and lives a very independent life, driving wherever she wants to go in her area, cooking and cleaning and making lots of decisions for herself, has only me to call if she does need something. The day after my brother's funeral I went with her to the bank and signed the necessary forms to make decisions for her in case she should ever need me to do so. I am the official "back up plan" in case she cannot do what is necessary. How ironic is that?
Hope pushes us on, even in the face of death. We do not stop living just because people we love did. We continue to get up each morning and to get the day started and to continue until the sun sets and we must get some rest. That cycle goes on day after day, season after season, with hope on the horizon each day as the sun rises that this day will be better than the previous one.
I have never faced what many have faced in the way of tragedy. I have never stood over the rubble of what was once my home and now is gone due to fire, flood, or tornado or hurricane. I have never looked into the mangled wreck of an automobile where a loved one once sat but now is gone. I have never endured the hardship that some have who have lived to tell the story so that they can better educate us to the dangers that may happen in life. I can sit in my comfortable, air-conditioned office, and write words of hope because I have not experienced such tragedy. I do not know how I would feel or what I would write if circumstances were different.
I have experienced heartbreak and disappointment, however, to the place where it has been tempting to throw in the towel. I have known the pain of persons I thought were my friends abandoning me in life. I have known the pain of job loss and economic misfortune. I have dealt with issues that divide and challenge families and have held on until things became better because holding on seemed better than giving up. I have questioned and doubted and searched for answers throughout life, sometimes without finding a reasonable or satisfactory answer. Hope is what kept me going in the face of the challenges of life.
The writer of Ecclesiastes wrote words that became famous when the rock group The Birds put them to music back in the 60s---"For everything there is a season. and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together..."
You get the idea. There is a time for everything under heaven. All humans experience what is common to humanity. We all receive what is common for humans to experience. Or as an anonymous person once said, "Sometimes we are the birds and sometimes we are the statues." We are all part of the human experience and there will be days that are better than others in life. Regardless of what happens, hope still abounds because we know that hope sustains us when nothing else in life can.
May the God of peace keep you spirit and soul and body and fill you with hope that is beyond comprehension.