Mary DeTurris Poust: “Hope: The Light that Shines in the Darkness”

Hope is one of those words that can be too easily dismissed. We hear it so often, frequently dripping with saccharine sweetness, that it can lose its edge. The truth is that when you strip away the greeting-card version of hope that dominates in today’s society, you are left with a stark but powerful core of hope, the kind of hope that comes from only one place: the heart of God.

If I had to choose one line in Scripture that defines hope for me, it would be from the first chapter of the Gospel of John: “…the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5) That one sentence, piece of a sentence really, can blow through my weary soul and lift me up. It’s like the spiritual version of a deep cleansing breath. My shoulders relax and suddenly I remember that the darkness is never as deep and unyielding as it may seem.

Unfortunately, I think so many of us in our culture today have traded in true and lasting hope for false and fleeting hope, convincing ourselves that we are at the controls, that we can create hope through the things we buy and the jobs we hold and the power we wield. What we don’t realize is that by trying to be our own hope, we lose the very thing we set out to gain.

This year especially, when political backbiting and economic collapse are the standard bearers, we need to turn away from the empty promises of worldly glory and focus our gaze on the Light in the darkness. It is only with hearts and minds and lives centered on Jesus that we will find the unshakable, un-losable kind of hope that allows us to look beyond what we can see right in front of us to what we can only dare to imagine.

Sometimes I lose sight of that reality. I get caught up in and bogged down by the struggles of the day, whether it’s meeting a work deadline or juggling the bills or staying on top of our myriad commitments. I look out my kitchen window as I prepare dinner and see only falling leaves and impending night. The danger is when we allow ourselves to wallow in that place, to get stuck in a spiritual dying, forgetting that everything – from the most mundane task to the most monumental obstacle – will pass, but one thing, the thing that can sustain us through anything, will remain for all time: God’s unconditional love for us.

Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that the “great, true hope which holds firm in spite of all disappointments can only be God.”

“God is the foundation of hope: not any god, but the God who has a human face and who has loved us to the end, each one of us and humanity in its entirety,” he writes. “His Kingdom is not an imaginary hereafter, situated in a future that will never arrive; his Kingdom is present wherever he is loved and wherever his love reaches us.”

So when our spiritual walls feel as though they are crumbling, when the winds of fear are pounding at our doors, we have to hold fast to our foundation; to our God, who promises that he will be with us always; to Jesus Christ, who walked this path before us, trusting his Father even in the face of utter despair.

Tonight, as the darkness of autumn envelops the world, I look out my kitchen window and see a shimmer through the barren trees. It is a reminder that hope does not necessarily come in great bursts of flashing light. It comes on the whisper of a breeze, in the flicker of a candle, in the still and quiet night, when we turn away from this world’s hollow hope and grab onto the only hope that lasts.

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One Response to “Mary DeTurris Poust: “Hope: The Light that Shines in the Darkness””

  1. Michele B. Says:

    Thank you for your hope-filled words and for bringing us back to the only one in which we can hope – God. I love your writing. Abundant blessings to you.

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