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“I know where she is”

Hope’s real comfort

"I’m all right; I know where he is,” said his mother as we visited after church one day. “He’s home with God today,” his mother assured me. I wanted to share with her my condolences after her son’s death and instead she comforted me with her witness of strong faith. Her son had lived a faith-filled life and was fondly remembered as one of God’s greatest cheerleaders and ambassadors. He could always be found visiting with folks at church with a smile and the words, “God bless you” that would end each conversation. His parents took great solace not only in their son’s faith but in their own. As unimaginably difficult as it must have been for them to return him to God after so brief a life, they were comforted by the hope they found in their faith – our shared faith – that death is not an end, but a beginning.

“I’m all right; I know where she is,” said her husband as we visited in the hospital emergency room. His wife had just died and I had been called to console the family. As we gathered in the tiny room, they acknowledged that although she had not been well for over eight years, they knew that she was now home with God. She was no longer plagued by a mind clouded with dementia. They had seen brief glimpses of her “old” self just a few days before she died. She wrote long letters to friends she had not seen in years. For all too brief a time, they saw once again the strong, faith-filled woman they knew as wife, mother and grandmother. In their hearts, her family knew that she was home with God, filled once again with wit and laughter, sharing the smile that lit up the room whenever she entered. She is home, she is safe, and she is with God.

Hope. It’s not just wishful thinking. Instead, it is a kind of vision, grounded in faith, which opens our eyes to new and wondrous possibilities. It is also grounded in the knowledge that God’s words to us are true and trustworthy, that God’s promises to us will be kept. With hope, we can get through just about anything. Hope opens our eyes, ears and hearts in spiritual ways that go beyond the power of our limited human perception to see more deeply than we ever thought possible. Hope gives us the ability to meet both the sad and the joyful in a way that can give us deeper roots and stronger support than we ever thought possible. Hope in God and in God’s goodness can transform us, if we allow it.

I suppose that is why I find this season of Lent to be so necessary, since this season is, by its very nature, all about hope. If we allow ourselves to fully and freely engage this season, then we will also allow God to enter into our lives in powerful ways to re-shape and re-mold that which needs change in each of us. The season of Lent is not just about ashes, penances and giving things up. It is also about taking new things on – new ways of being, acting, living and loving – as we allow God to transform us.

If we find it possible to believe that God can transform bread and wine into the body and blood of his Son, then we should find it equally possible that God wishes to transform us, not only during the 40 days of Lent, but during the 50 days of Easter – and during each of the days beyond. That is our hope, and we do not hope in vain. And so our journey in FAITH continues.