This past weekend, we visited our daughter in Pennsylvania to hear her last performance with her college a cappella group. It was bittersweet - enjoying the music, yet knowing this was the last time I would hear her do this. On Sunday, we attended the worship service at Rooke Chapel on campus. The college chaplain preached a fine sermon. I will also miss hearing him preach from time to time.
In his message, he told the story of Ernest Hemingway and a bet he made with some other writers. During lunch, he wagered that he could write an entire novel in six words. The bet was on. Hemingway wrote these words on a paper napkin: For sale: baby shoes, never worn. Hemingway passed around the napkin and collected the bet.
We can't read those words without having a feeling of both hope and loss. Hope for what might have been. Loss for what was hoped for, but never was. Most of us would like life to be only the good stuff and none of the bad - all hope and no loss. But we know from experience, that is not the way it is. Each one of us could probably tell a story of something we had hoped for but did not come to pass.
The Bible story the preacher talked about was from the end of Luke's gospel - the story of the two men on the road to Emmaus. They were heading out of Jerusalem following Jesus' crucifixion on Friday and the rumors of his resurrection earlier that Sunday. As they are walking along, they are joined by a stranger who asks what they are talking about. They tell him about what happened to Jesus, at one point saying, "But we had hoped he was the one . . ." (Luke 24:21a, NIV) If you know the story, you know Jesus is the one who is walking beside them listening.
Even when we face loss in life, we are not alone. Jesus is there walking beside us - embodying the ultimate hope we all need to make it through.
Prayer for Today
Comforting God, we walk along this journey of life. It is filled with joys and losses. Even when hope seems to have vanished, help us to remember that you are there with us, bringing a deeper hope that can sustain us every moment of every day. We pray this in the strong name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.