Can Hope Be Ruined?

April 10, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

I did not want to be standing in the chilly spring drizzle. But there I was. Waiting, praying. What was I, a young pastor, going to say to family members who would soon pass by, and see the first responders huddled in their mother's driveway?

Moments earlier I had been helping a group of volunteers wallpaper the parsonage kitchen. But our project was interrupted by an urgent call about one of my parishioners.

It was the days of double-digit inflation with a dizzying escalation of interest rates. Rising interest rates are fine if you are an investor, but debilitating and devastating if you borrow. Virginia had to borrow. Her husband had died the year before and left her with a farm whose major crop was bank payments. The previous fall had been the wettest in decades and the fields were too muddy to harvest, so the over-borrowed and under-priced crops bowed soggy along the country roads all through Christmas into February. In the cold gray rain, the fields were full of ruined hope.

And now, in the spring, when farmers usually decided what to plant and how much more to borrow, Virginia had made another decision. What in the world had made her think death was better than life?

Amidst the familiar passages for Palm Sunday are these jarring portions from Psalm 31: "Have mercy on me, Lord, because I'm depressed. My vision fails because of grief... My life is consumed with sadness..." (CEB) The words are jarring only because our image of this Sunday is colored by a parade of children waving palm leaves. However, don't these ancient words express a too-common experience, especially during these past two years?

The events of Holy Week can appear to be ruined hope. But that's true only if you leave early, before the ending. So here we are at the edge of expectation.

In death--life.  In sin--mercy.  And in the cold and gray, there is still hope in joyous resurrection.


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