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Sunday, December 15, 2013

This fragile anchor: a thrill of hope

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices . ..

I have been thinking about hope quite a bit, because it is a daily necessity for my job. And it is no small act of faith and the will to maintain hope, to renew the store of hope day by day. Hebrews calls hope a strong anchor that we must hold fast to.

To be a decent doctor requires one have hope that a patient will recover. When a mewling little blood-covered thin-skinned preemie is handed off to me to revive, I have to believe the baby has a chance to live as I work. When someone calls me to a code, or I decide to move a patient in to ICU who is slipping downward, I go into action with the hope they will improve. When I see brain-damaged kids in clinic who need adjustments to their seizure medications, I have to focus on the hope that they can learn and hear and speak and grow. When I admit a cute five-year-old, big-eyed and scared, with symptoms that could be cancer or TB, I have to hope for TB which is much easier to cure. Because I want them all to get better. And so many do. But not all. And sometimes the "not all" becomes a significant burden, a heaviness and weariness of loss and defeat. Last weekend I lost two children whom I had labored over intensely, whose mothers I had grown to care about. I had had hope, but those hopes were dashed, leaving flailing sobs and lifeless bodies.

If your child is sick, I am on your side, moving all the forces I can to ensure recovery. It takes a lot of energy. And I find that the energy is harder to generate without a strong sense of hope. The repeated losses erode optimism, make me cautious to invest my heart. Make hope hard. So that with the next one, I treat with a little more distance and doubt.

This is the reality, the context, of the holy night. Sin, error, and pining. Then something not done before, a God who is Spirit takes on flesh to enter the weary world, and throughout creation there is a rippling thrill of hope. Though Hebrews describes hope as an anchor, the faint thrill, the flutter of expectation, the almost-daring to yearn, rings more true. If this incarnation is fact, then there is nothing good which is beyond possibility. Impossible-odds recoveries, reconciled relationships, romance and progeny, feasting and fellowship and forgiveness, all move back into the realm of the probable.

So that the fragile little bodies with their fast heartbeats and cold hands become places where redemption can be seen, in real time.

I would like a thrill of hope for Christmas. A renewal of that dare-to-dream vision, that energy to push on.

1 comment:

tscarlet said...

Wow. I pray for that renewal of hope for you.