May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. – Romans 15:13
As a minister, I hate it when the phone rings in the middle of the night when there is only darkness and noises and the knowledge that no matter who responds to my hello, pain is on the other end of the phone. This time I recognized the aching voice. I had spent a lot of time with Ann in the past six weeks since little Andy was born. I had talked with her about his premature birth, its effects, and the resulting complications. I had stood with her at the pre-natal unit observation window watching him breathe, just breathe. I had listened to her dreams and hopes for a first son, and I shared her tears as moment-by-moment, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, he held on to the tenuous, thin thread of life. For six long weeks he held on. Now with the phone ringing in the darkness, I knew his battle was at its end; and it was.
“Rod,” Ann wept, “I’m sorry to wake you…the hospital just called. They don’t think Andy will make it through the night. We’re going there now. Will you go with us?” We spent the sunrise driving and the morning in coffee and tears. Andy held on through the early hours, and, with life worn thin, let go shortly before noon. For Ann and Allen it was the beginning of the winter of their souls. For them, it was the day hope died.
I’ve hurt before. I’ve hurt hard, but never to the point of losing hope, never to the point of not looking for a better tomorrow. There was nothing I could say to make the hurt not be true, nor anything I could do to remove the pain. No words of inspiration. No deeds of comfort. There was only presence, silence, remorse, and a whispered, gentle prayer, “God, gives us hope.”
Hope is what we need most: hope or the seeds of hope. Sometimes it’s all there is: hope to understand or to endure, or maybe just hope to believe in something, anything. Any hope is hope enough to live on. Any hope is hope to face another day. Any hope for the future gives power to the present. For Ann and Allen, it was the cruelest, coldest winter, the kind that left its markings on their souls. But in time, even winter’s dormancy gave way to spring’s new birth, and life’s greatest despair gave way to its highest hope – and they named him Aaron.
God gives us hope, hope or the seeds of hope.
Prayer: When all hope seems lost, Lord, we pray to you the words of Jesus on the cross, "Father, unto thy hands I commit my spirit."