A catastrophe can strip hope away in an instant, and there are many among us who have experienced this loss. I am reminded of a canoe trip we took in British Columbia — two dads and two sons — on lakes and rivers surrounded by jagged snow-capped mountains. The setting was spectacular but also treacherous, and on day four our friends capsized in the Caribou River. They clamored to shore while my son and I scrambled for whatever we could pluck from the swift current, including their canoe.
Unable to paddle upriver, we came ashore and ran to where they clung to each other, shivering and in tears. As soon as the dad saw us he announced, “That’s it; we’re done.” “What do you mean, you’re done?” I asked. “We’re done canoeing; we’re walking out!” I pointed to the steep mountains and said, “That’s impossible,” and when he came back with, “Then we’ll find a phone and call for help,” I realized he was traumatized, and I was in charge. We were half a week from anything.
Within the hour it began to rain, so we made camp and assessed our losses — camp chairs, tent, sleeping mat, paddle, food items, rain gear — and while our friends sat in silence, my son and I tallied what remained. We had enough to keep going, but knew we also needed to supplant their despair with our hope. Continuing was our only option.
Hope is for sharing, and is one of the most important aspects of faith. We participate in churches for various reasons, but one of them is to encounter hope, as when Jesus performed his miracles. Hopeless people came to him — lame, blind, hemorrhaging, grieving, in poverty — and Jesus restored them and restored their hope. He still does it today.
So after we came through the Caribou River and endured more rainy days, we awakened one morning to bright sunshine. My friend was up early, and hung every item to dry, as the sunshine completed the restorative task. Laughter returned, and before trip’s end, we were planning “next year.”
So it is for us all, where the hopeful share with those who need it. It is the little miracle we give to each other until that day when the fullness of God breaks upon us and all despair is lifted. Until then, let’s encourage each other to keep going.
Urban Heights Covenant Church
7605 Aurora Ave.