Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all, And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm. I've heard it in the chillest land, And on the strangest sea; Yet, never, in extremity, It asked a crumb of me. By Emily Dickinson
So many times in my life when I have come to a place of almost losing hope these timeless words of Emily Dickinson have brought me comfort. Somehow it is helpful to know that others struggle.
It is a blessing that wise people through the ages have recorded their struggles and the overcoming of them through their writings which we glean wisdom from as we work through our own struggles.
Julian of Norwich was a Mystic and a recluse who lived in England several centuries ago. At one time Julian became deathly ill and during that time she had visions of God and Jesus and when she recovered she wrote down her visions, she called them “Showings” Julian was actually the first woman author ever published in England. One of the wise teachings that she passed along to sustain us was when she said in reassurance, “All will be well, all things shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” These encouraging words were given to Julian by no less a person than GOD.
St. Theresa of Avila another one of my favourites in the wisdom department said once, “This too shall pass.” I find it hopeful to focus on the realization that one day our present circumstances will be no more, we will have overcome and moved on becoming stronger and wiser for the experiences that life puts in our pathways. The struggles strengthen us for the battles ahead. Both of these wise women were encouraged to continue to hope and their words continue to inspire others through the enduring power of their writings.
A little known fact that must become a well-known fact is that in the Bible there are 366 instances that we are told not to worry or to be concerned. (One for each day of the year and even including Leap Years.) How can we fail to trust the Author of the Bible? Trusting in God is a requirement of our faith, and He give us constant reassurance and also the comfort of others on our journeys. We never walk alone.
Recently I began a friendship with someone who was deeply grieving and it was a good and nourishing relationship which helped both of us to grow and to share experiences and stories from our lives. Sometimes just to be heard is all that a person needs, it seems so small but it is really huge. I have learned that I have to try harder to listen with my whole heart to become the truly loving being that God created me to be.
The experience opened my eyes and my heart to the sufferings of others and taught me that no matter how deep our pain is, our God is there to offer comfort and support as we travel through the “valley of death” back to the land of the living, the place where hope lives.
Compassion comes the hard way, we gain it from experiencing our own tragedies and losses and then we share those very valuable lessons that we have learned through loss with others. We do this because we feel compassion when we see others embarking on their own journeys of grief. Grief is all-encompassing and if left unchecked can become soul-destroying which is why we must share our hearts, our experiences and our prayers with those who are just beginning to experience the awful wrenchings of loss.
We must support those who suffer and offer to be with them as they slowly emerge from the depths of loss and grief, emerging into the light and allowing hope to creep back into their hearts and souls again. Hope that one day they will smile, laugh and love again. Hope that they can enjoy life without feelings of remorse or guilt.
Sickness is also loss, it is the loss of health, which brings with it the fear of what the future will bring. When we offer support and encouragement to those who are ill, perhaps to a person suffering from cancer we can help them to realize that they too can have happy moments while still facing chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Death and sickness do not define human beings. We are defined by LOVE.
I am holding onto HOPE because the Bible tells me that the three greatest things are FAITH, HOPE and LOVE but the greatest of these is LOVE. Without FAITH, we have no HOPE, without HOPE we have no LOVE.
No matter how many times LIFE has knocked me down I keep getting up, dusting myself off and moving on. Because I believe in GOD and I believe He has an excellent plan for my life, as He keeps telling me and anyone else who will listen in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.” (GOD)
Sometimes we forget that LIFE is a gift and each day is to be experienced with the anticipation of joy and hope. We are blessed to know that we are loved by our all loving GOD and that HE has plans to give each one of us a future filled with HOPE and LOVE.
Oh! and don’t forget we have to hang onto FAITH for it all to work out in the end. “All will be well and all manner of things shall be well”
Hold onto hope and an abundance of blessings shall be your reward.
Marion Sinclair-Simpson (C)