It’s a bit hot in here.

Too much all at once: my brain is on fire.  I’m not sure what to do except keep moving.  I’m not even sure which way I am headed – too much smoke to see clearly. Recently my father went into a dementia facility, then to the hospital, my mother moved in with us, my father unexpectedly passed, a tornado of grief swirled about us as we worked through the aftermath, planned the funeral, then the church was ransacked – my mother robbed in the process – in less than a month.

Strangely enough, in the midst of all this I notice that the birds are still singing.  They wake us up before dawn with their songs.  The cat yowls for her food. The dog yips to go out. People are getting married. Babies are being born.  Life goes on all around.

I’ve been thinking about people who have walked through fire: the ones who lived through concentration camps and Ebola outbreaks and apartheid and slavery and starvation and the atrocities of war. How do you keep walking when every step is only hot coal?  I remember watching a documentary where they interviewed a man who survived a Khmer Rouge prison camp for decades. He said that his faith sustained him; that God was faithful and would vindicate him.

Sounds like hope.

“Oh, that my words were recorded,
that they were written on a scroll,
that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,
or engraved in rock forever!
I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end He will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see Him with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!”  Job 19:23-27

Job speaks to me out of the firestorm.  His yearning is the song of my heart: “God. God. God. God. God. God. God!” to a thousand different tunes. In the midst of life – overarching, undergirding, encompassing, anchoring – God.  Deep within me, some place I do not know well, I can hear the song playing as the flames lick at me. Hope is not some cheap pair of glasses we put on to get a rosier view of things. Hope is the deep river of God flowing in and over us, carrying us along when we no longer know the way, when we can no longer walk, when words fail and everything is ash.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

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