HOPE NOW AND FOREVER

Persistent rays of sunshine pierced the darkness to announce the beautiful morning. Though our curtains usually prevent such intrusions, today’s sunshine made its way inside to invite us to embrace the new day.  While my husband headed to the kitchen for coffee, I opened the curtains and admired the crisp November morning.  I announced aloud, “Today, I will walk!”  That beautiful morning inspired Mike as well. When I met him in the kitchen, he said, “I’m thinking of heading to the lake later on.” Without hesitation, I responded, “That would be great!”  

After a quick breakfast, I donned my sweats and a jacket with sleeves long enough to pull over my hands for my trek in the fifty-degree air.  While Mike tended to a quick errand, I headed east.  We’d meet at the entrance to the beach and then walk along the shoreline together.  Afterward, I’d gratefully ride home with him.  I hadn’t been walking five minutes when it occurred to me that it’s mid-November.  Less than fifty days remain in Year 2022!  Where has the time has gone, Lord? 

As I walked on, I acknowledged that the past several months have been eventful in a variety of ways.  While many of us seem to be in post-pandemic mode, the flu and other threats remind us to be careful. Though Election Day has come and gone, wounds inflicted by opposing factions continue to sting.  Perhaps it’s time to soothe those wounds with the salve of open minds and open hearts.  It occurred to me that people who truly care about doing the right thing often find very productive ways to work together.  Halloween has faded into a fond memory, and I continue to struggle with my half-written book.  With all of this in mind, I gave thanks for the good things in my life.  Oddly, I felt somewhat out of place with my gratitude.  There are so many things to pray about!  Suddenly, a crisp breeze made its way up my sleeves and sent a chill down my spine.  Are you trying to tell me something, Lord?

As I walked on, the bright blue sky demanded my attention.  “It’s hard to believe this very sky sometimes reigns ominously over very sad and troubling days,” I said to myself.  Many of us humans aren’t feeling particularly peaceful just now.  A child in Ukraine continues to adjust to the sounds of gunfire and explosions.  A friend who battles cancer girds himself for the last steps of his journey.  A lonely heart continues to hope for love, though with less fervor these days.  One of the working poor hopes only to eke by as her struggle with daily expenses persists.  Can she survive the winter months if fuel prices remain as they are?  A not-so-newlywed wonders, “Is this all there is?”  That chill returned.  Are you telling me something, Lord

As I walked on, I acknowledged that generations have come and gone under this sky and more will do the same in the years, decades, and centuries ahead.  Joyful days will punctuate human history, just as moments of despair and sadness will leave their marks.  As I considered the tough times that have touched my own life here and there, I still find reason to feel grateful.  Even in my sorrow, I’ve been blessed…  Suddenly, a strong lake breeze disrupted a lawn-full of neatly piled leaves as I caught sight of Mike waiting for me.  They swirled high into the air, only to nestle on the walk beneath my feet as though that was precisely where they were meant to be.  As those leaves crunched beneath my feet, it occurred to me that the difficult times in our lives swirl us high into the air far too often.  Still, when we recover to live on in the aftermath, we find ourselves precisely where we’re meant to be– just like those leaves!  You are telling me something, Lord!

When I met up with Mike, we headed down to the shore and walked the length of the beach a couple of times.  Mike recorded Nature’s beauty with a few photos and then we headed home.  When I sat at my desk to begin this writing, another chill startled me.  “Where is that coming from?” I asked.  As I read today’s scripture passages, God seemed to explain through Malachi (3:19-20) and Luke (21:5-19).  Both insist that we must never ever lose heart, especially when we’re tempted to despair.  Malachi reminds us that God promises, “For you who know my name, the sun of justice with its healing rays will rise.”  Luke shares Jesus’ similar promise, “… not a hair on your head will be harmed. Your perseverance will save you.”  So it is that, though we experience suffering here, we will find peace and joy in heaven.  And, in the end, this isn’t a matter of hope after all.  These blessings are reality, the reality that God hints at in this life and brings to fruition in the next.

 ©2022 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved 

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