Deep is the darkness of a moonless desert night. The lethargic arrival of a new day splashes streaks of the dawning sun upon the earthen desert floor. Living in the increasing brightness are the things that last: faith, hope, and love. Saint Paul tells us that the greatest of these is love. There are times, I think, when one among them may predominate; times when the best laid plans do go awry or the seeds of a poor plan come to harvest. Like the gloom of night, fear covers you and muddles all reasoning. If you choose survival, then slowly, there will emerge an energizing force, a presence within that analyzes, re-orders, and sets a path toward the beckoning sunlight – hope.
I heard a preacher say that hope is revolutionary patience… hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.
Despair, the enemy, smoothers the soul with its numbing pall. If the loving and caring presence of others is needed, it is now. They are not an audience for the recitation of woes, but an emergency team to provide direction, assistance, and, yes, hope when you cannot supply them for yourself. They are a source of compassion, wisdom, and aid that can lead a person from a state of paralysis to one of action. The ultimate resource, of course, is God. As if from an ancient scriptural image, the voice from the cloud speaks to the depth of our being, reassuring us of our being loved, being of value, and being capable of rising above the storm. Prayer centers us again. Faith and hope fashion the environment within which we can reason wisely, take well-measured steps toward resolution of the problem, and find the courage to follow through. We are the children of He who has conquered every evil for us. We can conquer all evils within and without in His name. Jesus carried his cross to the final victory; let Him help in carrying ours.
Obedience to God's will does not mean everything will go smoothly, that the wind will always be at our backs, and that the journey will be easy. Jesus told his disciples to cross to the other side of the lake, even though He knew that the wind would be working against them. Despite the wind's contrariness, they struggled on, because they knew they were doing his will.
Gazing backward, the occurrence that ignited the crisis brings one to a crossroad: one way leads to destruction and the other to life. Changing priorities, modifying goals, and entertaining different dreams are troubling tasks, but they can make the rungs of a ladder to use in order to climb out of despair toward hope and stability. No matter what strategy is applied to wrest one from the nightmare, the person who awakens to a brighter day must be a different person. The difference is founded in the axiom, "Knowledge is power." From out of the struggle to survive, the gifts to the human psyche that self-understanding bestows are a refuge and a bulwark in facing the future. From the recognition of the power of prayer, the human soul and conscience find peace, hope, and a sense of unity with God. It has been said, "No sincere prayer leaves us where it finds us." Let us hope so.