Romans 8: 24-25 It is with this hope that we are saved. Now to see something is to no longer hope; why hope for what is already seen? But if we hope for something we do not yet see, then we look forward to it eagerly and with patience.
Yes, I know this was our scripture piece from last week. It stuck with me. Hope and eagerness. It seems that we are being fed a story that makes us feel hopeless. It feels that we have lost our eagerness and enthusiasm for living. So, I’m going to stay with this for another week if that’s ok?
How many of you have started reading a book and you’re excited about it and you tell someone what you’re reading and they tell you what happens? They tell you that everyone dies in the end. Or they tell you it was terrible. You lose enthusiasm for it.
What’s the point of reading the story? You already know what happens and you’ve nothing to hope for. Nothing to be excited about. You were excited for a good book and find out it’s terrible. I guess you could hope that your friend (if they’re still your friend) was lying or has different opinions than you, but some of the charm is gone. Hope for a good story and happy characters…is gone.
It might turn out that there’s something more to the book that makes you want to read it. Maybe it’s the excitement of watching the characters go through their process of hope and loss and hope again, even though you know how the story ends.
We do keep returning to our favorite stories, even though we know what happens. There are times when we hope that the ending will change even though we know it can’t because we already know and that’s exactly what makes the story powerful. A remake has you wondering if the ending will change. You sit with hope…and also fear. Fear that the new version will ruin what makes it so great. We’ve all seen disastrous remakes…ask a Jane Austen lover who is passionate about what’s right about their favorite version and what’s wrong about someone else’s. Hmmm…that sounds like its own Reflection.
I was talking with someone recently about Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, which was made into a Broadway play a few years back. Now, we all know what happens at the end of the story. I didn’t see the play, so I have no vested literary criticism to offer, but apparently what made the play so good was that you sat there with Lennie and George at the end and watched the directors stretch it out and stretch it out and you…hoped. Hoped for it to be different. At the same time, you hoped that it would stay true. You were eager and hopeful.
A good story brings us along a journey where we’re not quite sure what’s going to happen. We become emotionally involved with the characters so that we really have a vested interest in hoping for the best for the characters we love. We hope for a world where all is right.
Life is a like a good story. We have a vested interest in the characters and we don’t know what’s going to happen and we hope. We go through trials and don’t know what’s on the other side and we hope and work toward making our story better…our world better. We hope our work will pay off in the end. Hope.
It’s the point of the shadow. What’s hidden. Truth is not delivered like “fact” on a silver platter without a kernel of doubt. If there was no obscurity, we would lose the most important aspects of being human. Hope. Love. Trust. Faith.
If we knew what was to come without a grain of doubt, we’d have no reason for hope. We’d have no eagerness, no patience. We’d become like entitled children waiting for the rewards regardless of our actions. There would be no reason to explore and learn and grow. Honestly, we’d begin to wonder: what’s the point? Life would feel hopeless and pointless if we knew where we were going and what was going to happen. Our mistakes wouldn’t matter. Our good work wouldn’t matter.
Our good work does matter. Our life matters. Our place in this world matters. We must have hope and trust and faith and patience.
The answers are not obvious. And our answers are not the same. Yes, we have universal answers, but how we get there, each path is different. Some of us will choose the nice cleared path laid before us, hoping it stays that way. Some of us will ignore that clear path and take the half obscured, winding path, hoping it will help us grow or take us on some adventure (same thing, really).
We have to have trust that the answers are here for us somewhere. If the answers were already handed to us, there would be no point in seeking. If everyone else already had the answers, we’d have nothing to share. We wouldn’t learn from our own experiences, because we’d already know, and we’d have nothing to share from our learning, because they’d already know. There would be no point in choosing a path, because the path would be the same. The path wouldn’t matter, we’d be impatiently trying to get to the end. The reward.
Fortunately, we don’t know what’s coming. We can hope for things to turn out the way we think they will or would like them to, but we can never know. We must have faith and find our own way. We don’t know what’s around the corner and to meet with impatience and dread is to lose hope and trust in God. To lose faith.
There’s a reason so much is in shadow. Wisdom and truth is different than fact. Apparently facts are manipulatable…has anybody seen a few conflicting news stories lately? Facts are of the head and seem oddly debatable these days, but wisdom. Wisdom whispers in our ears and hearts and breath and we know…we just know… that is is true. Somebody’s facts may deny it. Shadows may obscure it, but we know that it is true.
We can’t see tomorrow, but we have a choice. Do we dread or hope? Do we simmer in impatience or have faith?
Truth. Tomorrow is obscured; the world is a place of love and hope obscured by shadow and doubt. God has planted a seed of divinity, in his like, into each and every one of us. All of creation is embedded with God’s touch. There is wisdom and divinity all around us.
And with in. Sometime we need to turn inward. Not to hide and escape and fall into shadow of dread and fear, but to nurture and nourish the small, quiet places. To connect to God’s creation, around and within before bringing it forth.