A Glimmer of Hope

“There are years that ask questions, and years that answer them.”

~Zora Neal Hurston

I’ve heard and used this quote so many times and I always thought it meant that there would be difficult times that cause us to ask the hard questions of life.

These hard questions are signals of our souls wrestling, our efforts to wrap our minds around situations that seem much too big and ominous for us to solve in whatever sphere or context we’re operating.

I once thought the years that answer these questions were characterized by simplicity, clarity, and the ability to see our way forward, feeling content in our comprehension of our circumstances and next steps. However, I’m beginning to see that the desire for clarity and simplicity is often met with frustration and complication, especially when the answers are layered and hard:

  • We are trying to figure out how to fight for what we believe in, while realizing that large swaths of our population do not agree about what we believe in and who we want to be going forward. Our social fabric is frayed from opposing viewpoints that have always been present but are now aggressively tearing us apart.
  • We are wrestling in real time all across the world. Struggles for liberation, equity, and justice are emboldening some while paralyzing others with fears that inflame reactionary desires for control.

Ironically, here in this mess of trying to answer the hard questions – especially this last one – is where I find the most astonishing glimmer of hope. I find a hope that refutes the evil of hatred that turns one neighbor against another, that turns churches inside out, and reduces the Gospel to a political tool. It is this wrestling in hard times, with hard questions, and even harder answers that is grounding me in a fiercely resistant hopefulness rooted in my faith in God’s promises to never leave or forsake us. There is the hopeful determination to wrestle until the sun rises and the blessing is given!

I’m finding hope in the young people – in the college kids who refuse to simply accept our declining liberty and are fighting back. These young people are challenging us who preceded them – pushing us through discomfort to places of action. I see glimmers of hope in:

  • The resilience and tenacity of millions of students who started college or graduate school in quarantine and graduated this year. Their determination, under difficult circumstances, and discipline to stay focused through overwhelming obstacles – this makes me hopeful!
  • The courage and the character demonstrated by institutions like the Union Theological Seminary Board of Trustees when they endorsed divestment from companies profiting from war in Palestine/Israel. Regardless of their position, it is inspiring to see an institution do hard, albeit controversial things and demonstrate solidarity with their students, faculty, and administrators. While so many institutions are paralyzed by fear, pragmatism, and political expedience – their courage makes me hopeful.
  • In the words of TMC Advisory Board chair, Dr. Reginald Blount, in a recent Facebook post, “The Gospels take on new meaning and revelation when we realize the disciples were teenagers/young adults and not old men!” It reminds me that God specializes in using those that have been discarded and discounted to shift systems, and to define new realities, through Gospel-infused, new-life driven transformation. When I imagine the disciples through this lens, I see my children and their friends. I visualize their audacity in following God’s calling on their lives while stumbling into turning the world upside down by simply determining to BE! This gives me hope.

These witnesses exemplify personal/institutional agency that transforms cultures and societies for the better. This gives me hope. This enlivens me. This motivates me to operate in my purpose and to do my part to prepare the way for what is coming!

While my role amid the present coming change is shifting, I am inspired and encouraged by what I am seeing. I have a glimmer of hope and I offer this wisdom:

“Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread!”

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