October 2, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Hebrews 11:1 (NRSV)
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Hope has an inner sense of elusiveness at times, even and especially when one doesn’t seem to be able to catch it, capture it, or keep it. My grandmother’s witness as a creative entrepreneur was to cultivate it. In the face of hopeless situations, she kept hope at hand and was in the habit of cultivating it with her actions.
My grandmother Sara had a saying about hope that she would often say out loud in precarious situations: La esperanza es lo último que se pierde (“Hope is the last thing you lose”). Growing up in Nicaragua in the 80’s and 90’s we often were in precarious situations. Civil war. Post-civil war reconstruction era. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Living under a communist regime with the sustained fear of violence and unsafety. She would watch the news about wars in other countries and I would see her wise wrinkles around her face tense up and get ready for whatever she thought was coming. I never quite understood the saying. Do we lose hope? Or, when we get to the bottom of the barrel, do we find hope?
Hope has an inner sense of elusiveness at times, even and especially when one doesn’t seem to be able to catch it, capture it, or keep it. My grandmother’s witness as a creative entrepreneur was to cultivate it. In the face of hopeless situations, she kept hope at hand and was in the habit of cultivating it with her actions. She kept one eye on the TV news and another eye fixed on the Good News.
My abuela was a type of Lydia, an amazing woman we get to know in Acts 16. Like Lydia, my abuela made a business of her skills and creatively defied the darkness. She was a teacher with a high school education. She washed and ironed clothes for other people. She was a seamstress and also taught other women how to sew so that they could provide for their family by making clothes or selling it. She cooked lunch for the employees at my dad’s pizza business. Through it all she prayed every morning before her grandchildren woke up. She was in the habit of hoping. Yet her contemplation was always coupled with faithful action.
My abuela Sara embodied this ancient hope that often perplexes me in that first verse of the hall of fame of faith in Hebrews 11. I cannot pin it down with a distinct and rigid definition, but I witnessed the practice of hope in her life. I have benefitted from the harvest of her hope. However, I also saw the planting and watering of those seeds, especially when the weather conditions were less than optimal. I often look back at how she hoped in order to be strengthened to continue to hope today; an ancient present faith and promising practice.
Conditions around our global familia, our local communities and our personal lives may continue to be less than optimal. Dear fellow pilgrim, would you hold onto hope? Would you cultivate it? La esperanza es lo último que se pierde.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers – (314)
By Emily Dickinson
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
How do you experience hope in your life?
Where do you need hope today?
Journal about hope. How would you define hope? What are the highs and lows of hope? What is one spiritual practice in your life that cultivates hope?
God of the hopeless, the helpless and the hurting. We offer you today those broken fragments of our lives that seem to be without hope. We offer you our fragmented souls. We offer you our workplace situations. We offer you the things that have changed temporarily or permanently. We offer you churches, schools, institutions, businesses. We offer you the things seen with the hope of the unseen. Breathe hope into our lungs even as we exhale hopelessness. Give us creative hope and teach us to cultivate hope. Jesus, when all is stripped away you remain a Living Hope. Who else will we run to? You are the only one with words of eternal hope. We hope in you. Grant us grace. Amen.
Click here to read Inés’s other devotion on hope, focusing on Abraham: “Count the Stars.”
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Realizing the Faith (Hebrews 10–11)
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Inés is an ordained pastor, preacher, reconciler, writer, and speaker. We are pleased to feature Inés as a regular Life for Leaders writer.
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I loved this. I have family who are not believers and don’t understand what it means to have Hope. I’ve often quoted the first stanza of Hope is the thing with feathers. I’d never looked up the rest of it. Of course God is our Hope; in ages past and years to come. I really appreciated this devotional. Thank you
You’re welcome Margie! I’m glad it blessed your soul. That Dickinson poem is so beautiful to me. I had to pull it out again in this season.
Thank You my mom always talked about the bottom of the barrel but because of her Faith we NEVER saw the bottom…please keep up the good work..this touched my Soul.
Your mother sounds like a strong woman of faith! Grateful for her witness even in this moment. Grace and peace to you, Thomas. Thanks for reading.
God of hopeless, who instills hope into the hope, not just hope the Living Hope. Breathes hope as we exhales hopelessness. Comforting and encouraging thoughts. “Hope” is the thing with feathers!