Sunday, December 9, 2007

Hope Dwells With Us -- Hope Chronicles 2

This past year was a rough one. A year ago last fall, I fell off a horse and broke my tailbone. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt something so painful! I couldn’t walk or sit comfortably. I couldn’t bend without aggravating it. I resorted to a donut pillow to make it through work.

At the end of March I was playing Hide-and-Seek with my 5-year-old niece. As I stealthily tip toed up the stairs, I missed a step and fell all the way down the stairs. I sprained my ankle, my knee, and fractured a couple of fingers. I suppose I should have been grateful that it wasn’t my dominant hand, but do you know how many things require two hands to do them? I made huge messes in the kitchen and because of my ankle and knee they were painful to clean up.

Within a month, a dear friend had died and I was an emotional wreck. I ended up with major stomach problems. I couldn’t keep anything down for 8 days and had to go to the ER to get fluids.

I mention all of these times because they are times when I felt helpless to do even the most basic thing. And with that helplessness came a sense of hopelessness. What was the use of trying?

Recently, I was watching a TV show. They referenced Dante’s Inferno. In the story, Dante visits the eight circles of hell. The quote they referenced was a quote on entering hell, “Abandon hope all who enter here.”

Abandon hope. Most of probably don’t like the sound of that. I don’t know that Dante’s description of hell is accurate, but in this one thing, I think it is probably right. Hell, it would stand to reason, would be a hopeless place.

I admit that there are times that I’ve abandoned hope. I tell myself that things won’t get better. I say that I could pray but God wouldn’t hear me. I tell myself all the things that are wrong with me. My thinking often does me few favors in times like those.

Luckily with prayer, counsel, and sometimes medication, I’ve come out of those dark places of the soul.

But really what brought me out of those places was that even though I may have abandoned hope at times, hope –the HOPE – has never abandoned me. In fact, that HOPE – Jesus – came from heaven to earth and then to the cross so that I would never have to truly be without hope.

Matthew 1:22-23 says, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet. ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ – which means ‘God with us.’”

Immanuel. God with us. I remember learning once that the more literal translation means something along the lines of “He will pitch his tent among us.” In other words, he wasn’t just passing through. When God came to his people, he dwelt among them, lived among them.

And His presence remains with us to this day. Immanuel. God with us.

We may abandon hope, but HOPE never abandons us. HOPE goes to the ends of the earth so that we know we need never be without hope. Immanuel. God with us.

No comments: