“For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.” JRR Tolkien
The Israelites were running out of hope. Can you imagine the vortex of emotion they were experiencing? One minute they were walking out of Egypt, no longer slaves. Heads held high. Hearts palpitating with anticipation. What does freedom look like? What does it feel like?
But now word was circulating through camp that Pharaoh was in pursuit. The entire armies of Egypt would overtake them in just a short time. And here they were, running out of land. The Red Sea stood before them, a wide expanse of water cutting impossibly through the bleak landscape. Swollen waves tossing back and forth in the wind, as if mocking them in their despair.
All hope was lost. Freedom was certainly fleeting.
Do you ever feel like that? Caught in between two impossible situations? Unable to escape.
It’s hard to hold on to hope in the face of unrelenting despair. Isn’t it? Turn on the news or scroll through any of the social media platforms and you’ll certainly find that hope is seriously lacking in the world today. Everywhere you look there is bad news. A shadow has fallen over paradise. What are we to do?
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 12:12 (NIV)
The Israelites longed for freedom, and just when they found it all would seem certain that it would be snatched right out of their hands. But we know how that story ended, don’t we? The Red Sea opened up and allowed the Israelites to pass through on dry land. And when the Egyptians followed? They were swallowed up by the sea.
What are you longing for? Do you even know? What does your heart tell you?
We see the world through our own prejudices and our experiences have defined what we believe. We often only see what is right before us, or through the lens of what is happening around us, or to us. It’s hard to look forward to something that you can’t hold in your hand. Hope is a magic tonic that many of us find hard to swallow.
But there is a light in this world that is fueled by hope, and if we let that light go out the darkness will swallow us all in the same way the Red Sea swallowed Pharaoh and his army. That light is carried by the substance of our faith. We hold onto hope because we believe there is something greater than our experiences. There is something more waiting to be unveiled in its proper time. There is goodness still yet in this dark age, and the heart of man is not entirely lost.
If we have not hope we cannot see the world for how it could be, and we cannot see how God would move in our midst.
There is terrible darkness in this world. Children are kidnapped and sold into the sex slave. Cancer has touched most of us. There are things hidden that we may never know. Evil is real and is rising to its peak. But we cannot yield to despair. We cannot put our heads in the sand. And we cannot let our hearts grow cold. We must cling to hope, for that is the only thing that will unlock the door to love. And without love we are all lost.
All things will be restored. Everything that has been lost to us will be born again. If we are believers, this is our central truth. But even Christians forget. The darkness will indeed pass. Hope will see us through it, and in the end only love will remain.
Photo by Kaique Rocha