A REFLECTION AND A BENEDICTION
I took this photo a few years ago, but this week it captures the way hope feels to me these days. My hope is believing the cloud will eventually pass. My hope is sensing a brighter day beginning to glow. My hope is noticing patches of blue sky and glimmers of golden sunlight occasionally peeking through the clouds. But oh my, this current cloud can seem so dark. And recently this cloud has lingered too long, then invited another to take its place just when I think a new day is about to dawn.
I write this today because I know I am not alone; many of you are also experiencing delays, setbacks, and hurdles as you try to move forward. Many of you are also feeling weary, discouraged, and even despairing as you wonder if life will ever return to normalcy and familiarity. Like me, you may be scheduling then rescheduling… anticipating then re-anticipating… keeping watch throughout the day and then extending that watch into the night. How do we maintain our hope in these times?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary site lists two meanings for the word, HOPE, and I found a gift when I connected these meanings. We continue to hold on to our hope, our
“desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment,”
because we have our hope in
“someone or something on which hopes are centered.”
Hope is looking at the dark cloud in the sky, knowing that the sun is still there – warming, glowing, and bringing life. Yes, the sun may be hidden but we know this is only for a time. We know that the sun continues to shine, even in our darkest days, because we catch glimpses of its radiance here and there. We know the sun will keep sustaining us and bringing us new life, for we can feel a bit of its radiant warmth even through the cloud.
Hope is also looking at our trials, knowing that God is still there, too – warming us with love, glowing on us with joy, and bringing us new life through every moment. God may seem hidden, but we know this is only from our perspective. We know that God continues to shine, even in our darkest days, because we do catch glimpses of God here and there. We know that God will keep sustaining us and bringing us new life, for we can feel a bit of God’s radiant warmth even through our fog of uncertainty or our cloud of disappointment.
But today I was invited to take this one step further…
As I was writing these thoughts, I was reminded of the story of Exodus that chronicles the journey of the Israelites through the wilderness. Life was very difficult; they were hungry, weary, and whiney, as they wondered when they would finally reach their destination and better life. We are told:
Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’” And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. (Exodus 16:9-10 NRSV)
God is also in the cloud itself! The love of God is shining on the clouds of our trials, but also shining through them, and even shining from them. Our hope is looking to the cloud and knowing that God is in that, too. Our hope will remain and endure all things, because God will remain and endure, too – in all things, through all things, and from all things.
May we keep our hope in you, God,
when we struggle to be strong
for our troubles keep on coming,
and clouds are lingering too long.
Wherever we may look, dear God,
may we find the hope that you
shine on us through the darkest cloud
or from radiant skies of blue.
We continue on our journey
asking only that we sense
the comfort, love, and hope of you
and your abiding presence.
We come to you with gratitude
that your hope is not concealed,
for even through the wilderness
your bright glory is revealed.
Photo by Karen, Hurricane, WV
Bible verse taken from https://www.biblegateway.com/