Spring. It is one of my favorite times of year, although it seemed to take a while to get to Maryland this year. There is something special about the transition from the gray, bleakness of winter to the colorful, vibrancy of spring. The moment when a small, barely noticeable bud begins to form on a tree branch. The small shoots of green that appear in the mostly brown grass. The Daffodils and other early spring flowers that break their way through the soil at the first sign of warmth. If you are not paying very close attention, it can seem like it happens overnight. However, the truth is it has been a process. As I reflected on spring, I realized it is the emergence of new life that is so energizing. In many ways, hope is the same.
The brokenness of our world can feel like a cold, bitter winter. Regardless of your point of view, we all know that our current reality is not the way it ought to be. We hear of children struggling with hunger and homeless, and it breaks our hearts. We pass someone with a cardboard sign on a street corner or intersection, clothes warn from the weather and their face downcast, and know it is not right. We hear of someone fighting through illness, whether physical or mental, and it leaves us asking, “why?” The news is full of violence and division, forcing us to wonder if the situation is hopeless. We may not all agree on how we got here or how we move forward, but we all know something is wrong.
This “winter” fosters a sense of hopelessness. The evidence of this hopelessness is easier to see in communities suffering from poverty and it’s byproducts such as homelessness, but the reality is it impacts us all. I may not wonder where my next meal will come from, but I do catch my self wondering if anything can ever change. This feeling of hopelessness can leave us feeling paralyzed, accepting that our only choice is survival in the midst of the deadness that surrounds us. Until that moment.
Something catches your eye. It is a glimpse of color in an otherwise black and white scene. Are your eyes playing tricks on you? No, there is something breaking through. There is a sign that winter might not last forever–that it might not win. In a moment, you are reminded that spring is coming. That new life is arriving. This is why I love hope.
As we look around and wonder if change is even possible, something catches our eye. It could be something small, but it breaks through the brokenness around us. It could be the story of just one changed life or one hungry child fed, but it speaks to something deep inside our souls. We often try to ignore the feeling, worried that we will get out hopes up only to have them dashed. This is usually a well-earned defense mechanism. But, what if change is possible? What if a new story of new life can be written? What if there really is hope?
We were created to experience real hope. This is why these glimpses of new life inspire us: It is supposed to. It resonates with our hearts and lifts our spirits. What if we leaned into these feelings? Much like spring, bringing and experiencing real hope is a process. What we often see is the end result of a messy journey forward to break through the hopelessness. Also, like spring, what starts as almost unnoticeable can turn into something vibrant and beautiful.
I know this is true because I have seen it. Over my many years of working in Nicaragua, and in communities in Maryland, I have seen real hope break through to create new life. I have seen people once trapped in hopelessness realize their God-given potential through the power of real hope. I have even experience the power of real hope in my own life and I am forever different.
As signs of spring reminds us that winter will end, the breakthroughs of hope remind us that overcoming hopelessness is possible. The only question is will we grab onto it? Will we get in the game and play our role in making what starts out small into a tree of hope that could change the world? You can make a difference. We will all be more hope-filled for it.