Monday, September 9, 2019

A Life Without Despair is a Life Without Hope

I heard this phrase recently and it made me stop and think for some time.

Can you wrap your head around this concept?  A life without despair is a life without hope.

No despair - no hope.

We like hope.  We don't like despair.

Can't we have hope without despair?  Not real hope.  Not deep hope.  Maybe superficial hope.  "I hope it doesn't rain today" kind of hope.

But hope for change...for the world to be a better place...hope for people to understand the real meaning of grace and mercy...hope for healing...hope for relief...the deep hopes that come from pain in the soul.

What are the longings of your soul?  When was the last time that you differentiated between your superficial human longings and the deeper desires of your soul?

It makes me think of Ruth Haley Barton's book, Sacred Rhythms, and her description of the conversation that Blind Bartimaeus had with Jesus.  Jesus had a habit of asking people deep questions like, "What are you seeking?" or "What do you want from me?"  He was going after spiritual hunger, reflected in the honest reflection of the person being asked.  This particular story and question comes from Mark 10:46-52:
46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”  So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.  51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.  The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”  52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
Barton invites us to imagine (just for a few seconds) being Bartimaeus and thinking through how you were going to get the attention of Jesus.  What words would you use?  What emotions would you feel?

Then imagine that Jesus turns to you, looks you in the eye, and says, "What do you want me to do for you?"  What would you say?  What answer would you give?

We may need to peel back a number of layers to get to the bottom of what we really want from Him.  It may take some honest reflection and soul searching.

A life without despair is a life without hope.  What are you hoping for?  What drives it?  Where have you been and what have you seen that drives both the despair and the hope?  And how do you take both the despair and the hope to answer the question Jesus asks, "What do you want from me?"

That is your story.  That is the uniqueness that is you.  I'm sure many of our answers would be different but in some ways, I would guess that they may point in a similar direction.

As I wait for news about my health, I consider something a friend said to me this past week.  He said, "I pray for health for you or something better."

I like that.  Maybe that is what I would say to least for today.