What If Today…We Fostered Hope

First image of trapped Chilean miners, 2010

“Man can live about 40 days without food, about 3 days without water,

about 8 minutes without air, but for only one second without hope.”

…and if you are trapped in a mine,

…2,300 feet underground,

…with 32 of your co-workers,

…surviving on limited food, water, and air…

I think it would be imperative to have a good dose of hope, too. And if you have none, to have someone in the group who steps up to create a sense of normalcy and consistency in the chaos of new and conflicting emotions and challenges.

 After almost 3 weeks underground, the news was broken to them that their ordeal would be extending at least another 90 days. Can you imagine what went through their minds? And is it really helpful at a time like that to deny the difficulty they’d face? What could someone say that would foster hope in the miners and result in a collective cheers from family and loved ones as they absorbed the news?

“You will not be forgotten,”  Chilean President Sebastian Pinera told them.

Isn’t that the only thing that ever helps? Knowing that we’re not alone even if we feel like it would easier to be forgotten?

Hope to me does not mean smiling when you feel like crying or saying “everything will be okay” when you know it might get worse.

A really good friend of mine had her whole world fall apart recently. Unable to cope with the enormity of all the crisis that had blind-sided her so suddenly, she crawled into bed and slept, making herself unavailable to friends who got increasingly worried when there was no way to know if she was okay.  She and I had talked every day up until then and she’d become my greatest confidante and supporter through my darkest times.  And then she was gone.

One day she called. Turns out that a little neighbor boy, someone she’d come to love and who had missed her, ran past her teenage boys who stood as sentinels with strict, unspoken orders to let no one into her room, and made a flying leap onto her, waking her from her depression.

She got up and admitted to me as we talked that if it hadn’t been for him sharing his innocent love the process of healing and rejoining the living would have lasted indefinitely.

How many opportunities to foster hope pass us by because we are don’t see how simple it is?

I’ve lived long enough to see the patterns in my life of hopeless times being replaced with hope found in new directions. My darkest moments never lasted. And I didn’t get through them with positive thinking. There was always present a combination of positive “doing” and fellowship with friends who somehow found a way past my self-imposed sentinels to wake me up from my depressive slumber.

When I wanted to float away they became my gravity.

I believe that there is One who sits and waits with us in our hopeless moments. When we’ve given up He prompts others to act in His stead. Others who need us to show up. He sends the ones who know how to love, and to listen, and to comfort, and ask or demand that we live. They allow us to feel dark as we shuffle to participate, not realizing that light and hope increase with our tiniest movements, no matter what our mood is.

They open closed curtains, letting light warm and guide us. And then they walk with us down difficult paths, knowing that even though the journey is ours alone, we are never really alone.

  • What experience have you had dealing with hopelessness in your life? Would you share one of them?

8 thoughts on “What If Today…We Fostered Hope

  1. The way out of darkness can be found in serving others. But that doesn’t mean things get better. Difficulties may persist through the dawn and daylight – tremendous and terrible difficulties.

    Lift someone up – especially when you have no strength to serve yourself and your own ambitions and dreams.

    Lifting others up reconnects us to life and love. It reminds us that we are here for a reason – many reasons. It reminds us that we are needed. And in the face of the greatest difficulties – knowing that we are needed shall defy ten thousand doubts and all self-defeat.

    My two cents – which does not buy you much at the store.

    • That’s my experience too…to lose myself in service. I understand that that heals quicker than anything. I’ve noticed resistance to that principle when people are really having a dark time. And some people actually require LESS of those who seem to be falling apart or suffering when it’s the opposite that helps. As I thought about that-the times I’ve told someone to do something for or to think of someone else- their reluctance to move has always struck me as their greatest obstacle. So I believe that there are times when a need, or a request made by a friend, is sometimes the catalyst to action.
      Good 2 cents! Thanks!

  2. There have been days where I get through them on what feels like a moment to moment basis. I think the main thing I have relied upon is knowing that the dark days always pass.

    • I think that seeing that pattern comes with experience and maturity, I have another friend who’s actually a friend of a friend, who is very young and has given up all hope because his life changed in an instant after one regrettable decision. Everything he had control of and made him feel like he knew where he was and where he was going was taken away. He can’t see the future or any of the blessings that might come out of it. He’s really tormented. And to make it worse, some of his loved ones are focusing on his mistake instead of supporting him. So sad.
      Thanks for coming by, Jack!

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