I look outside, through the glass window, and find myself staring at an idyllic scene. The sky is a wonderful soft blue. The sun is creating wonderful highlights and shadows on the buildings of New York’s lower east side. The streets are extraordinarily clean, still white from the salt applied to deal with the ice and snow of yesterday. It looks warm, inviting, and almost soothing. It a moment of reflection a resident walks by with gentle while clouds filling the space around her head. I’ve almost forgotten how cold it is outside! It is numbing. Whatever ice or snow is left is rock hard. It is bitter and unforgiving. Ah, life in a nutshell.
There are too many valleys in your life and mine. Friends fight for life. Without looking I find pain, discouragement, and pure fear. How does one anticipate the unknown? Can one predict or will it just happen? Can anything mitigate the worst?
It’s easy to believe we can anticipate life’s worst. I like to suggest three ideas in response to your fears and mine.
First, we cannot possibly imagine the worst. Whatever we fear, reality will be different. For some it’s simply “be warned: God will bring on you and your people and your government a judgment worse than anything since the time the kingdom split, when Ephraim left Judah. The king of Assyria is coming!” (Isaiah 7.17) For others it was a different story.
Second, fear is a poor motivator. Fear often births panic. Fear often nurtures depression. Fear often pulls on the tension which rides in and on our relationships. Fear makes the valleys even worse than they are.
Third, the way to prepare for the valleys, to mitigate the severity of what could come, and deal with the extremes when you are there rests in the word Hope. With hope we naturally do the things needed to nurture and support real living. By carrying hope we put on the best protection against depression and fear. By working with hope we connect with the Source.
Hope is God’s gift.
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