Sustaining Our Hope
Two events in November come together as hope-filled bookends. The month opens with a
favorite feast of mine: All Saints. It closes with another: the Thanksgiving holiday. This year
these two events especially capture my attention due to the disturbing travails that
continue to cloud clear-seeing and prevent equanimity in our society. A layer of thick grief
disguises itself in many as anger and blaming. For some, this moves into an even harsher
direction, leading to futility and the taking of one’s life.
So I was especially grateful to come across the following Biblical story. It tells of the
prophet Elijah’s dismal spirit. He’s fleeing from his enemies and has lost hope that his
society will change. I thought of those whose suffering today bears down on them so
intensely that they, too, lose confidence, believing like Elijah that death would be easier
than remaining in their immediate situation.
“Elijah went a day’s journey into the desert, until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it.
He prayed for death, saying: “This is enough, O Lord! Take my life…” He lay down and fell
asleep under the broom tree, but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and
eat. Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water.” (1Kings19:6)
I marvel at this unknown presence who “touched him,” bringing Elijah what sustained his
life, encouraging him to go forth with restored strength for the journey:
Who are the unknown angels, the nameless,
faceless ones, who come to us unsought,
who arrive to ease our agonizing journey
through the desert of lost hope and dashed joy?
What are the hearth cakes, the jugs of water,
left there to revive our desolate spirit—
those brief encounters that only afterward
we realize the balm they have been for us?
These angels travel not with silver wings
but with compassionate, human hearts,
moved by a guided nudge from far inside,
to speak a word, leave a smile, send a message.
We are gifted with restored hope and purpose
to carry us through another day of desert,
perhaps far beyond that one precious deed,
into a longed-for freedom from what spiraled us
downward into thinking there was no reviving.
This November I invite you to consider who has entered your life to sustain your hope and
renew your spirit.