We woke to fog yesterday.
As late as Sunday, the local Facebook weather guy was forecasting spring warmth for this week. Monday, he said, we’d see partly cloudy weather, but Tuesday would be the first of several dry and sunny days.
He was wrong. A rarity, for him. The first half of this week was cool, drizzly, gray. It felt appropriate, somehow, for the world to be obscured, for my view to be murky.
The fog lasted longer than I expected; when we drove into town for a brief errand at ten, it still hovered in the air, forcing me to drop my speed, to squint into the gloom as I tried to find my way forward, hoping for a glimpse of the sun.
In recent weeks, I’ve been pondering the meaning of hope, the weight of it, in a world shrouded with fog.
It’s easy to get this wrong. I’m apt to stray to one extreme or the other. On one side, hope as a genie, a good luck charm, a vending machine. A laissez-faire optimism that it’ll all be alright because God’s got me covered. On the other, hope as cosmic fire insurance. A kind of spiritual nihilism, the idea that nothing that happens to me here really matters in the end because this world is not my home.
Written out like that, they both seem facile. Laughable that anyone would believe such things, would live by them.
And yet, they’re subtle. They disguise themselves, worming their way into my heart and my mind until I hardly realize they’re there.
I made chicken broth this week.
This is not an uncommon activity for me; I pick up rotisserie chickens whenever they are on sale and add their bones to the scraps of celery and onion and garlic and carrots I keep stashed in the freezer. Some water, some salt, a splash of apple cider vinegar, three hours in the pressure cooker, and voila! An excellent and nutritious freezer staple from things that most would view as worthless.
As I was ladling the broth into Ziploc bags yesterday morning, it struck me as beautiful, this transformation of dreck into liquid gold, this promise of future soups and stews and pastas. The world outside my front door was – and is – murky and uncertain, but in this small, ordinary domestic task, I found hope.
As I walk through life, as I read and study and listen and learn, I am increasingly convinced that true Christian hope is neither the naïve optimism nor the spiritual nihilism so often expressed.
My hope is rooted firmly in the resurrection, in the promise and the power it holds. It is a hope that culminates in a new heaven and a new earth, in a humanity fully reconciled to God. It is forward-looking, to be sure: this life holds sorrow and pain, sin and tribulation, endured by the faithful and the skeptic alike.
The next several months will take their toll. The suffering is real, and, though this trial will pass, others will come to take its place.
And yet, hope is not limited to some far-off tomorrow.
Because hope tells me that the same power that raised Christ from the dead – resurrection power – is at work in me, in my tiny, quotidian deeds of faithfulness. When I say a prayer for a friend, or kiss a scraped knee, or ladle chicken broth into plastic bags, when I offer small acts of love, the Spirit turns my paltry offerings into something beautiful and manifests the Kingdom in the here and now, in this broken and hurting world.
One day, pandemics and suffering and death will be defeated. They will come to an end. In the meantime, until the fog lifts, I will be here, offering my two mites with hope, trusting He will use them for His glory.