As the poem goes, "hope is a thing with feathers." Emily Dickinson knew how to touch the insides of so many with this line. It is true. Our hope takes us so many places. It teaches us to dream, it directs our goals, and it carries us through another day.
But sometimes an abstract is not enough.
Sometimes the word hope doesn't measure up.
Sometimes things only seem hopeless. There is sorrow, confusion, death. Many things happen that tear away at our hope, the feathers fall off of the wings, and eventually, our hope has no way to fly. Another cliche that's true is "when it rains, it pours." When one loved one dies, another acquaintance passes a week later. When our favorite co-worker leaves, another negative thing happens at our job.
Transitions happen in life, painful as they are. And in those times it feels as if there is no hope. At all. Hope in those moments doesn't seem to have feathers. Hope doesn't carry us away alongside our dreams, hope seems impossible, it seems to have led us astray. We had hope, we had faith, we prayed, we cried, and the person still died. The finances still didn't show up. The person didn't return. The job fell through.
What do we do when our hope with feathers falls to the ground?
What if we stayed right on the ground with it?
What if we were to ground ourselves in something that isn't dependent on our circumstances? Something good, beautiful, and eternal?
For me that's Jesus. Jesus is hope. Jesus is hope that there is abundant life for me. Jesus is hope for freedom, Jesus is hope that I will not be left alone, abandoned, out to dry.
Do I always feel the hope? Absolutely not. And that's a real thing. It is valid that not feeling that hope inside our bones really sucks, majorly.
But even if we don't believe it, even if we don't feel it, it is still there.
Jesus is still hope. Jesus still conquered death. Jesus still leads us to freedom and victory and light. Jesus is still hope. And nothing can take that away.
Make it your mantra, even when things don't feel hopeful or safe.
Jesus is hope.
Maybe the word Jesus trips you up. Maybe it has been abused around you.
That's cool. Name it something else. There is always an eternal hope, and it doesn't matter what you call it. If it's good, then it's God. It is eternal. It is life.
Cling to the hope, cry, be angry, scream, do whatever you need to, but then allow your feathers to sink to the earth and ground you. Hope is a tangible thing. Hope can fly, and hope can plant you firmly where you need to be: steadfast, sure, safe.
Do we ignore the sorrow? Do we ignore the pain? Absolutely not. But we do remember: Jesus is here. Hope is here. Life is abundant. We are held.