I don't know if there is a sadder sight than seeing someone who has lost hope. Today, I heard our pastor say that when you have no hope for the future, you have no power in the present.
Think about it. When you feel hopeless, it's as if you are paralyzed. Standing and breathing and blinking seem to take an inordinate amount of effort. In fact, when you are truly in the throes of hopelessness, it's like being underwater. Everything seems to move in slow motion and you can't really understand what anyone is saying. It's downright surreal.
There's an old hymn we used to sing in Bible Study Fellowship (so I'll assume it's a Baptist Hymn) called On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand. I can still hear all those soprano voices singing the opening verse and refrain in my ear (it was a women's Bible study):
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name
On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand
I was having one of those days today where I felt disconnected. Don't ask me what that was about. The only thing I can come up with is that I'm a little off my routine. Since I'm not teaching class to the rehab ladies on Monday and Tuesday, I haven't been working on a lesson. I don't have to be "ready" for tomorrow, to be "on." So by contrast, today I was off.
Do you ever feel like you just don't have it? The ladies were greeting me in church today and I felt as if I was digging deep to force a smile. I felt like walking wounded. I just wasn't myself.
Of course, I know I can't manufacture "it" -- that feeling of energy and passion and excitement ... of hope. Yet its absence is so profound that I find myself scrambling to recover it.
I have learned that I have to be patient with myself when this dark feeling envelopes me. In fact, in church today, I found myself saying, "Wait ... wait ... wait ... it's going to pass..."
I have learned that feelings are neither good nor bad. They are simply feelings. They come. They go. They try to take you hostage. You have to choose whether you will lean into them or turn away sharply.
And even though I felt as if I was moving in slow motion, maneuvering underwater, I
tried to turn away. Really I did.
After church, we went to a birthday party for a dear friend of ours, Hannibal. We've known Hannibal and his wife Betty for 15 years at least. He is like a Father to me; which is sort of funny, because his wife and I carry on like silly sisters. In fact, when I call on the phone, Hannibal will often say, "Did you want to talk to your sister?"
Anyway, Hannibal is just about the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet. He is kind and selfless and gentle; and yet authoritative. He is a quiet yet strong leader.
In the midst of Hannibal's party today, hearing people tell stories and sharing their earliest memories of a man I've known for less than 1/4 of his life, my mood suddenly lifted. It's pretty hard to celebrate the life of a truly noble and godly person without being aware of God's presence. I mean, I knew he was there all along; I always know that he is there. But sometimes, as I have been known to tell God, I just need to really experience it.
So I'll make full circle and repeat the words of Addison Road's song ... everything rides on hope now. Hope is a beautiful, sustaining gift from God, which is why I suppose its absence can seem so terrifying.