Finding new hope in dying
By Ron King, D.Min., LMFT
For those of us who are thriving in this world, hope includes anticipation of health and strength. Restoration and healing are expected. This hope has kept most of us alive at times when facing illness, waiting for the natural processes, the medication, the surgery or other treatment to provide a cure.
It’s life-giving when we can look forward to getting outside again, being with friends and doing the things we enjoy. Hope sustains us and those who hope with us for better days. When our strength begins to return, we light up with plans for a vacation or activity that we’ve not been able to do while recovering from an illness or accident.
But what happens to hope when the doctor shares test results indicating that healing and recovery is not expected? Holding onto unrealistic hope can be discouraging when there’s no positive change over time. But we know that miracles can happen. We’ve heard the stories of unexpected healing and are tempted to hold onto hope for a fullness of life to return.
The big choice we face is never between hope and no hope, but between different objects and sources of hope. When dying becomes an undeniable reality, hope can grow strong. The focus of our hope changes to that which is more permanent in life, eternal. When we can no longer hope in good faith for a new lease of life on this earth, we can grasp the promises given for a life beyond what we have sought here.
We can hold onto that which we have only heard about, but not yet experienced. This can be a hope that doesn’t disappoint because it doesn’t depend on evidence of well-being here in this world. If we can look toward a Person and Place greater than ourselves, beyond the experts, medical solutions, and the good wishes of our friends and family, we may find a source and object of hope that carries us through the dying process.
Waiting need not be filled with dread and fear or hopelessness and helplessness when our hopes are set higher than ever before. Instead, when that happens hope can become infectious among those who wait with us. Our goals and dreams will change and become the assurance that allows us to rest with confidence. It also allows those who wait with us to rest, and to strengthen their own hope.
What do you hope for today that is new, or that you hope for in a new way? How can you share that hope with those you love and see that hope fulfilled together? Let us know in a comment.