To Wake Up and Work
Consider the words of Carlos Quijano, a Uruguayan lawyer, politician, essayist, and journalist, who said, “Sins against hope are the only sins beyond forgiveness and redemption.”
Sin, we are taught, is anything that separates us from God, which means that hopelessness is a sin. God is hope, and hope resides in God. Without God, there is no hope. To reject God is to choose to rest and reside in hopelessness. When we give up, we are essentially saying that hope, which is God, is not real, and that situations and circumstances are greater than God.
Evil parades itself as all-powerful. In this season or your life, it may feel like evil has won. Let’s say, for a moment, that evil can and does achieve periodic victories. Even so, evil is not greater than God, and we who believe in God are called to walk in hope, to breathe in hope, and to trust in hope—which is to walk, breathe, and trust in God. We have the responsibility to do so.
In times of apparent hopelessness, we are called upon to seek “eyes that see” (Proverbs 20:12) the hope, power, and presence of God. It is easy to “see” when evil rests, but far more difficult when evil rises up—and evil always rises up. Evil is in competition for our souls. Evil wants us to sink into despair. Evil wants us to sit in darkness and not believe in the light.
But if we have eyes that see, we are able to see how evil works. It comes to us regularly…but it also regularly passes on. Psalm 30:5 says, “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” I like to add, “…and morning always comes.”
Nelson Mandela asked that our choices reflect our hopes and not our fears. He said, “Difficulties break some men but make others. No axe is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise even in the end.” Fannie Lou Hamer, an African American voting and women’s rights activist, lived in hope; she believed that the evil of racism would be superseded by justice: “One day, I know the struggle will change. There’s got to be a change—not only for Mississippi, not only for the people in the United States, but people all over the world.”
We are called to hope. We are called to believe in what we cannot see, and believe that, even after we are gone, the work we have done will reap results. What we are not allowed to do is to weep and mourn to the point of inaction. Injustice and evil want to manipulate our spirits and steal our joy. Hope demands that we have “irrational joy,” even as we trudge through the muddy terrain of injustice and hatred.
Sometimes it feels as though all of our hard-won lights are in danger of being extinguished. When we think of all the work we have done in the name of justice, and how much of it is in danger of being undone, our spirits are tempted to sink, but this thing called hope is our medicine. It is our spiritual castor oil, powerful enough to penetrate spirits that are clogged with despair.
It is now that we must sing louder and pray more fervently, even as we work…and even as we weep. This is not the time to doubt the power of hope. We must remember that weeping and evil and turmoil come, but they are temporary. They may bring the darkness of night into our lives, but the light of joy comes in the morning…and morning always comes.
Amen and amen.