"Hope is the ability to hear the music of God's future. Faith (trust) is the courage to dance to it today." Bishop William Frey
Dear Friends, How do YOU hear “the music of God’s future?” The Lenten season for me is a time of great introspection and this season I think my focus is on hope because I have encountered so many folks struggling to find the redemptive and healing power of hope. As I write this, we are watching Japan and the Pacific Rim and praying for the people there that they will be able to restore their countries as they bury their dead. It is hard to find hope after such a disastrous earthquake with so many losses. I am not a TV watcher but I am an avid radio listener. The sounds of people reacting to the earthquake as it was taking place were eerie and positively disconcerting.
How does one find hope when it cannot be seen? In “A Hope That Does Not Disappoint”, Dr. James Travis III tells us that it is important to “re-biograph” the past. He reminds us of the story of Joseph and his encounter with his brothers who had sold him into slavery years before. They have come to find him because they are at his mercy for food as well as for help in a false case of theft against there youngest brother, Benjamin. They are sure that Joseph will seek revenge (perhaps judging others by themselves?) but instead, he meets them with forgiveness and understanding and helps them rewrite (or re-biograph) the past. Joseph helps them to see that while he realizes that they meant evil against him, God used it for good.
If Joseph had not been in Egypt, he would not have been able to save so many people from starvation. These were the thoughts that probably sustained him and gave him hope in difficult times during his stay in Egypt. God’s ability to “be with” during times of crisis is so much more than the “God of rescue”, which many Christians look to as a “quick fix” for their suffering.
If we translated what we read in the Bible literally, God should have rescued all of the people in Japan and elsewhere from danger. We really should not have any wars. In the Bible miracles occurred during supernatural events (think the parting of the Red Sea). What has happened though, is in reading the Bible, some Christians have concentrated on the spectacular and heroic deeds God accomplished. They have overlooked the simple presence of God to a sick person and her family and friends.
When God addresses a need there is healing in a larger sense that goes far beyond physical healing. I have heard folks who have dealt with substance abuse in their families say that in many ways it was the “best thing” that could have happened to them. I wondered how this could be—were they in so much denial they could not see that loving a substance abuser is a very, very difficult thing, fraught with pain and despair? But family members and even the recovering substance abuser have told me, “I learned so much about myself during the worst times—and I became closer than ever to my Higher Power.” In essence, they were telling me that they found the ability to “hear the music of God’s future.” May we all hear the music of God’s future as we continue with our Lenten journeys.
Peace and Health, Jane Givens, Health Ministry Coordinator
Source: Travis, James L “A Hope that Does Not Disappoint” 1998, from Online Learning Center, Wayne Oates Institute.