Monday, May 20, 2013
Holding onto hope
The other day, I listened to a public radio report on research into suicide notes.
Yes, it's a sobering topic but an instructive one.
A researcher, a linguist, has developed a complex computer program that reads through all the notes, sorts and sifts them, and then identifies certain key words and phrases common to the notes.
When the research is complete and published one day, medical personnel, educators, clergy will have further help in identifying people with suicidal thoughts and will be better able to intervene and save lives.
What did you learn from the notes? the radio interviewer asked the researcher.
He said that beyond mundane concerns like instructing a friend or loved one left behind to pay the mortgage or get the dog to the vet for its shots, nearly every note mentioned the loss of hope.
Without hope, there is only despair, which can lead some people to suicide. It did for the people who wrote those tragic notes.
Despair is cumulative. Crisis after crisis. Stress upon stress. Pain added to pain. It all builds up. The weight of suffering, especially when carried alone, becomes too much. And too often, the person so afflicted sees only one way out and, sadly, that is by taking his or her own life.
But might hope also be cumulative? Can hope be planted in the soul, tended and then allowed to flower like roses in the garden?
I think so. And the time to start is now. And the way to start is through prayer. Daily prayer, the constant turning of one's attention to God, is the beginning of hope.
Despair takes root and blossoms into darkness and death when one thinks that one knows more than God, that there is no solution, that there cannot possibly be resurrection from the grave on the third day.
But the gospel declares that God has conquered death--that Jesus Christ is risen from the grave and is alive. The God of all-powerful love is the only reliable ground of hope.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said, "God makes a way where there is no way."
Sometimes, our mortal eyes can't see the way, but God can always see it.
So, hold onto hope, for hope is God holding onto you in the darkness until the light of dawn comes.