Like many people, my thoughts at this time are influenced by the current media attention to hope and change. There have been references to the beginning of a new story, the opportunity to change the narrative in which this nation lives.
As a nation, we need this opportunity for a fresh start, a clean slate, a chance to begin anew and to walk in a different direction. For our country, this new story will occur in the face of incredible obstacles. In spite of new hope, the economic, social, and political circumstances in our nation have never been more grim.
What about for us personally? Can we just decide to rewrite our story, or are we stuck in whatever story we find ourselves in?
That’s the essence of repentance, isn’t it. Not so much the shame of remorse – although there may be significant regrets – but the decision to step into a new story.
But first, we must have hope that a new story is possible. Where do we find that hope?
When the circumstances around us are difficult, it is easy to give in to a sense of hopelessness and despair, particularly when the obstacles seem insurmountable. Are we confined to these circumstances? Is this the only story possible for us?
I doggedly explored the nooks and crannies of all that I hoped for, but those dreams were disconnected from my reality, unattainable. I know the the pain of disappointment when dreams are beyond your grasp. The fruit of hope eventually becomes bitter.
When did we quit believing that our story is good? This is not much different than the Israelites in their fickleness toward God, angry at Him for the difficulty of the journey, unable to believe the possibility of a better outcome, not trusting the overall goodness of His intentions.
Many mornings this winter, I stood in my kitchen trying to remind myself that God is faithful and God is good while the pain and suffering of people around me blasted like the December winds, rattling the windows of my hope.
A veteran of harsh winters, I am familiar with the holding pattern of endurance, waiting for better days. But happy endings are not true of every story. At the threshold of 2009, I no longer looked expectantly to the horizon. I convinced myself to focus on what is immediately in front of me.
I know that death is a pre-requisite to resurrection. I suspect the death of hopefulness in my own heart is likely part of God’s process in me. However I am cynical enough to believe that dead might just be dead in the arena of dreams and that many who dream are simply naive, not yet wizened to the harsher realities of life.
I have been thinking a lot about the place of hope and dreams in the life of a believer. What will come along in my life to convince me that hope is possible, that it is not only okay, but necessary to dream again? Somewhere beneath my flimsy faith in good outcomes is a solid trust in the God who loves.
How much does my belief determine the story I will write? While belief alone may not be enough to change the difficulty of our circumstances, it is the first step forward if we want to find ourselves in a story beyond what we see. We might even call it faith.
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
Maybe it’s time to once again believe in the possibility of a new story.
The thought of stepping into that belief feels as uncertain as stepping onto an icy pond in March. But hey, you never know.