It was 2 am on a cold August morning when my phone beeped back in the day of Nokia 3310’s and to blog was to be a renegade. I rolled over in my four poster bed, picked up my phone and saw a message from one of our youth group members. “Amanda, we need help. One of our friends has overdosed at a party”.
I jumped out of bed, called my flatmate out of his slumber and asked whether he would come with me to a party close by, in case it was dangerous. In our tracksuits, we ran to my Sigma and drove a few short minutes to the out of control party. As I arrived, with my flatmate waiting in the car, I saw this young fifteen-year-old being wheeled out of this party by paramedics and sent my flatmate home so I could jump in with this young hurting soul.
The look on her Mothers face when she walked into the hospital cubicle at 4 am on a Sunday morning, was of sheer terror. She didn’t have any words that could describe the immensity of the journey that they were about to walk on.
They walked out over a decade a journey of hope.
It was 5.45 pm on a Sunday evening, that I sat on the cold floor of our church toilet trying to convince a young woman that she was precious and wanted. Her ramblings about not wanting to live her life and her sheer devastation at the quality of the future she imagined, was far from the jumping pool of teenagers who were at the front of the stage demanding that the band begin their set list.
I sat on that floor for a good thirty minutes, before I could convince her out of the protection of that toilet cave and as I walked down the corridor into a thriving church celebration, the look in her parent’s eyes of utter despair marked me.
They journeyed with her over a devastating decade of hope.
It was 3 pm in the afternoon, on an unsuspecting Tuesday afternoon, that I sat in the car park of our local cafe strip with one of my married friends. She whispered to me, over our flat whites that she was contemplating having an affair. This was the beginning of an unravelling of deep discouragement that sent her fleeing back into her husband’s arms. It was far from pretty, it was ugly and raw but she walked out slowly a decade of seeking hope for her marriage.
Year after year I have watched and witnessed stories of hope unravel in ways that we never expected. Messy stories. Moments misunderstood. Confusion. Mistakes. Unsure realities and opportunities of recovery.
Often I hear many people speak from this proverb that “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” I also have also been guilty of short-changing this proverb.
However, the second stanza of this verse says this…
“But a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
I’ve been discouraged lately about the discourse around Christianity in our society and culture. I am often discouraged by the way that religion is used as a weapon to control and manipulate. Lately, I have been deeply questioning even the role of the church in the future of our world. Questions unanswered around relevance and hatred. Confusion about finances and application. Deep musing around the poor and impoverished.
But the one word I come back to is the fulfilment of a life lived with hope. When I remember stories of messy people finding hope in the most devastating circumstances, I am reminded once again the power of community and how powerful transformation is with hope.
Transformed lives, by authentic community and counsel.
Transformed families, by the promise of what is to come.
Transformed futures, by a message that transcends generations and cultural trends.
Transformed opportunities, by growth and perspective.
If your heart aches from hope deferred, let me encourage you to discover stories of hope where transformation has radically deepened the impact of lives lived sown.
Tell me your stories of hope, My weary heart is needing some reminders that in the end, hope will lead to a tree of life and fulfilment.