I think that hope calls from a long way off but from the most intimate and close place, too. I’ve occasionally struggled to maintain a sense of hope and I think this is a more common thing of modern living. A lot of life is singular, fringe-y, and alone. I’m certain that in times past, humans relied on one another more out of necessity. The modern world – the most appreciated object of my I-love-to-hate-and-hate-to-love sentiments – is lonely. I expect that any reader of this blog post will recognize that all of us humans at some time or another need the help of another. My modern life sings the tune of David in his one hundred twenty-first psalm, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?”
I am a lover of stories. I think the main way I learn in nursing school – a hot topic of nursing students – is by making story out of diseases, body processes, or procedures. I identify the characters, the setting, the plot, the climax, and the resolution in order to hold in mind how to do any of the many things I must be able to do at any given moment. My great and memorable lesson in hopefulness comes from one of my “story of stories:” The Count of Monte Cristo.
Hope is a theme of the book. All of the characters are tested in regard to it. Monsieur Morrel is a particular character that finds hope in a moment of need. His business on the brink of bankruptcy, he truly believes his family will be better off with him gone and enacts a plan to end his life. At just the right time, but a time too on the verge of late for anyone to be comfortable with, the Count of Monte Cristo lets his sovereign magic work and relieves the financial burden of Morrel without any obviousness to anyone, lest Morrel or his family feel the other-indebtedness of rescue from a fellow human. Morrel, told by Monte Cristo to “always hope,” gets his lesson in the stuff, as well.
Hope is a far off thing. It never seems part of us in the moments we need it. It’s a part of God. “Love hopes all things, believes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Hope is a still, small voice that finds its way in with the lifting of our souls’ eyes, like the opening of a door in our mind. It’s the little thought that bounces its obtrusive, joyful way into the downcast, those that cannot see a break in the proverbial clouds, with a, “what if?” Hope beckons a person to consider that there could be a change.
In my life, as I’ve aged, I’ve been challenged with bouts of depressiveness. Even now, I see the low key in which my life song seems to major. At times, this has been overwhelming for me. I relate to that sense of powerlessness, of hopelessness at being tossed in ocean waves, kept in tow by a strong current that I lack strength and energy to fight against. In some ways, and probably unlike so many, I feel I’ve gotten out of that current. I feel I’ve been rescued from the overwhelming power of depression. I have no recipe for how this can happen for anyone else. In my case, I attest to God giving me new eyes and a new mind with which to perceive and understand my life. The great lesson from Monte Cristo weaved its way into my sense of life: “always hope.” My DNA fibers, nowadays, elicit hopefulness in my whole being. I know that part of it is from understanding that Jesus is the way to, truth and life of God the Father (there’s no way to make that seem not goody-two-shoes-esque. Keep reading). I trust in God’s sovereign goodness. I trust in the Bible as an ultimate authority (read in good context (!)). The hope of belonging to God and of receiving his care puts all of my bad life experiences to a test. In living life, I experience what it offers and wait in patient expectation of God: “How will you make this good, my sovereign God? I test you here!”
He does make it good. Time and again and to the correction of my unbelief, he makes it good. As much as I want to avoid coaxing others into belief for any sense of my adding to God’s kingdom or doing something at all, to be truthful, I must speak to the reality of and faithfulness of my Heavenly Father – the one whom my soul loves. The one who gave me life when I set my mind on death. The one who holds my happiness, so much so that I simply ask a quiet question to him in my moments of angst, and receive peace in reply. He’s a “very present help” (Psalm 46:1) in any of my troubles. He is a help, ask him.
And here is now hope summed up for me:
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:7-14
There is hope – what lies ahead is a mystery to be unfolded. “Just wait. Just hope,” are the words that make me look farther than the unbroken clouds before me.