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Hoping Against Hope

When we emerged from Ward’s Super Market into the Florida sunshine, Sister Elizabeth discovered that she had left her sunglasses inside, next to the coffee grinder. She went back to retrieve them while I sat in the car, bored, and stared through the windshield at the backside of a row of newspaper vending boxes. Bored I remained until somethingNewspaper vending: Everything will be OK caught my eye. There on the Florida Times-Union box — on the back, as I mentioned, where it would not be seen at all from the street — was a neat sticker printed with the words:

EVERYTHING WILL BE OK.

Who had put it there? Did every Times-Union vending box carry this assurance, in startling contrast to the messages found in the paper itself? Or had a hope-filled vandal struck?

Was it pure chance that I was sitting there gazing at this mystifying communication? Or was it a reminder to me of a truth that I was neglecting?

The sign on the newspaper box was one of those small mysteries that have no explanation (mysteries are not puzzles to be solved), but which nudge us into mindfulness.

Everything will be OKI thought of the words Julian of Norwich heard from Jesus:

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.

I thought also of Romans 8:

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (8:28)

Events of our own lives, however, can sometimes make it very hard to believe that all manner of things will be well. Reading the newspaper, watching CNN, or surfing the internet, we may find it even harder. What about the genocide in Darfur, the war in Iraq, or global warming with all its implications? What about the victims of Hurricane Katrina who still reside in tiny FEMA trailers? What about the homeless couple who appeared at our door the other day, eager for work that we could not offer?

Christians live in hope. We are always looking not only at what we see here and now, but toward what is promised. We live in hope of the fulfillment of all things, which in some deep sense is present to us even now through the Resurrection of Jesus. We believe that time is going somewhere, not just in circles. God is leading us beyond where we are now. Our future is good.

So we contemplate the Resurrection, and we cling to hope. We continue to hope beyond all hope. For nothing in our lives is wasted. Goodness, despite all appearances, does prevail.
. . . . . . . . . .

P.S. A friend called after reading the above reflection. She wanted to know if Sister Elizabeth found her sunglasses. So for all who feel as if you have been left hanging, I am happy to report that yes, she did find them right where she left them.

The thought of my affliction and my homelessness
is wormwood and gall!
My soul continually thinks of it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘therefore I will hope in him.’

(Lamentations 3:19-21)

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