August 30, 2017
Weekly Reflection – Hope
“Now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.”
I Corinthians 13:13
When “life happens,” people are tempted to give up hope. It must feel like that today to the residents of south Texas who just experienced hurricane Harvey and whose lives have been ripped apart by the cruel winds and rains of nature. “Life happened” overnight as, in many cases, this category four storm blew away a lifetime of work. Homes, possessions, livestock, and livelihoods – all destroyed in one night of carnage. I wonder what emotions they must be feeling. How would I feel? Would I still have hope?
Have you ever had the sense that the virtue of “hope” gets short-changed in our Christian experience? We focus on faith in Jesus. We focus on loving God and our neighbor. But do we really value and nurture “hope”? Hope is what sustains us as we persevere, remaining steadfast in times of trial and discouragement. For instance, when our lives are turned upside down by a hurricane or another of life’s disruptions that are bound to come and, when they do, feel like a hurricane.
The virtue of hope challenges us and empowers us to be determined, resolute, intentional, purposive, and steadfast. Hope is not wishful thinking or passive waiting. It means intentional, purposeful living; and it is something we experience before the “bad stuff” happens. We live hopeful lives.
Most of us have a GPS installed on our phones or in our cars. The GPS system can show you the path you want to go to. However, the system requires that you put in the right information about the end of your journey, your destination. The GPS knows your starting point. When you enter the destination, it calculates a route, a path for you to follow. And if you make a wrong turn, it will recalculate the route or way for you.
Similarly, we strive to discern our life’s path, knowing where we are and looking to our destination. This looking means making conscious, deliberate, intentional choices to move in the direction of our destination. When “life happens” and we get blown off course we can make the necessary adjustments to get back on course. Or do we?
In Genesis 12:1-2, we meet Abraham, the great Father of the faith and pioneer of the spiritual journey which ends in Jesus. God’s directive was simple, “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land I will show you (Genesis 1:11). Trusting in God’s promise, Abraham began a journey. He had no GPS, no itinerary, no maps, no named destination, no hotel accommodations along the way. He knew where he was, but his figurative destination was wherever God was going to lead him. Abraham traveled with a great deal of trust in divine providence.
Ah, that was it! Abraham TRUSTED God to lead him, and that trust gave him HOPE which empowered him to persevere and remain steadfast as God led him during his journey. He didn’t know where the journey would lead, but he was confident that God knew and that was enough. His job was to follow his spiritual GPS (God’s Positioning System). And much of the journey had more to do with how he responded to what came his way.
Thomas Merton was one of the more influential spiritual writers of the last century. He wrote a now-famous prayer that seems appropriate for those times when we experience the hurricanes of life and don’t know which way to turn.
“My Lord, God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does, in fact, please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do that you will lead me by the right road, although I may know nothing about it. Therefore, will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me and will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
May you experience a hopeful week, even in the eye of a hurricane!
You don’t have to make the journey alone, write to the Chaplain at anytime.
Read more reflections, Lifelong Companions In Your Life