Paul penned these words around two thousand years ago and despite all of our technological, sociological and cultural advances they are still really the only things that remain important. Skeptics, particularly of the atheistic bent would scoff at this suggestion but I invite you to live without them. Most of us that have lived beyond our late thirties or early forties have probably tried and have found it difficult if not outright impossible to do so.
Faith is a perfect example. Some will claim that there is no God; that everything around us is the product of pure chance and that indeed something came from nothing. The very fact that this belief is, in of itself, a statement of faith (there is no way to prove this scientifically or otherwise) seems to be somehow missed by those who hold to the idea. Everyone has a faith system for if one does not then there is no reason to continue and tragically there are some who come to this conclusion and end their existence. But it is not the loss of faith that causes this, it is the loss of that which is borne from faith and love; hope.
Hope is the never discussed and much looked over attribute that is missing too much from the Christian's vocabulary and is desperately needed in our societies present economic and spiritual crisis. If Faith and Love were dating Hope is the unwanted third wheel in the church much like the Holy Spirit of the Trinity; seldom discussed, misunderstood, and underutilized. Which is a shame because it is rather quite powerful.
A little over a year ago one of my business partners asked me to pray for the wife of a good friend who was stricken with a very aggressive form of cancer and he supplied me with a login to her Care Blog which she updates frequently for her friends and family.
To say that Maria Elena Milam has been to hell and back is an understatement. She had her kidney and lymph nodes removed to find out that the cancer had spread to her spine and left lung. She went through exotic and painful radiation and chemotherapy treatments; some which she had to discontinue as the treatments turned out to be more dangerous than the cancer. She has been bounced around clinics, doctors, treatment centers, drugged, went through extremely dangerous back surgery (left a 12 inch scar), been down, back up and then down and then back up again, dealt with endless rounds of chemotherapy to joyfully discover it working on her cancer and then watch a good friend of hers die of the disease.
How does one deal with life when it has become a personal living hell? This is what Maria has to say:
Hope is misunderstood as it has lost its spiritual connotation and context; we presently relate Hope with 'wishes', i.e. 'I hope I win the lottery', 'I hope I make a million bucks'. We associate Hope with things that we really never believe we will acquire or attain. Yet the hope of the Bible is a million miles from that definition. We cannot even have Faith without hope:Hope really IS everything. With hope you can pick up the pieces and deal with whatever you are being dealt. There are times on this journey when I have lost it and when I found it again it was even more precious than before. This cancer journey has no rhyme or reason to it that is discernable to the human mind. But if you think about it, from strictly a human perspective there are many crazy things in life besides cancer that don't seem to make sense. I have been struggling with why some people live and some people die. The face of death is personal to me now as I have befriended people on this cancer path and those friends and aquaintences have died. There is Nancy from the center and June, Ron, and John from support groups. There is little Meena whose mother carries on with an unfathomable strength every single day. There is Laura from Inheritance of Hope. These are all people I met, got to know, and prayed for. They have moved on to the next life and they don't suffer here anymore but their families miss them terribly. And there are people that live like Billy from Virginia, Louie from New York, John from Gainesville, my wonderful friend and cancer mentor Kim, many, many people that now work at CTCA and Duke, and many people whose names I don't remember that were glowing from good news like the news that I got yesterday. There are people that I have lost track of so I don't know where they are in their fight and people fighting hard like Kristen and JayZ and Kelley. Where is the ryhme and the reason? I have come to peace with it by reminding myself every day that this is God's world and the only way to find peace with it is to find your way to God. I hope and pray that each of you can do that in your own way because it truly is the path to peace in this seemingly crazy world.
'Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.' (Heb 11:1)Hope is not 'wishes and butterfly kisses', it is the real desire see the Kingdom of God established on Earth as it is in Heaven. It is born out of the Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; that even when we don't see it that in him all the promises of God are 'Yes' and 'Amen'. We Hope for substantial things and by our Faith we see them implemented in this dead dying world.
Jesus is our ultimate Hope. We know that one day we shall leave this body and someday we will see him yet again. But this is not wishful thinking, Jesus told us this would happen and we can believe him. Dead men tell no lies and neither does the one who came back from the dead. His resurrection is our Hope. Until that day Hope gives our Faith arms and legs and even sometimes wings.
Until I started reading Maria's blog hope has not been one of my strong suits. So let's give it a shot shall we?
I hope Maria one day is completely cancer free.
I hope that my marriage will continue to get stronger and stronger.
I hope my children will come to know the Love of Jesus.
I hope my friend will find a job.
I hope that Jesus will come soon.
I hope that one moment of one second in heaven will wipe away all the suffering, pain and tears that every person has every experienced.