I hoped for good, but evil came;
I looked for light, darkness came instead.
—Job 30:26, author’s paraphrase
“Can we talk as soon as possible?” she messaged. Our schedules didn’t line up for three more days. When we were able to talk, she shared that her employer had sent a termination email the day she texted me. Maybe he would have fired them face-to-face, but because of COVID-19 restrictions in their country, he chose to do it that way. The letter gave them two days to let supporters know the mission would no longer receipt donations for them … Now what?
“How can he do this with the virus?” their daughter cried. “What can we do?” Yes. What can they do? Apparently, in their country, it’s not illegal to fire someone when they can’t look for another job under quarantine. They are left to ride this out until … when exactly? They just don’t know.
Amid my own lament for this family, I couldn’t help feeling outrage, despair, helpless, and no small desire for revenge. Then I was reminded of an Advent prayer by Walter Bruggeman, Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: Prayers of Walter Brueggemann:
“In our secret yearnings
we wait for your coming,
and in our grinding despair
we doubt that you will.”
As I pondered this prayer, it occurred to me that hope is a mixed blessing. It keeps us going when all seems lost. It also intensifies our sense that something is not quite right with the world. Hope anticipates, living in the gap when darkness comes instead of light, when evil comes instead of good. Hope leans forward when waiting is all we’ve got.
ACTION: How do you find yourself waiting? Is there a sense of unrest, dis-ease, or anxiety in your waiting … hope … for the end of difficulty? What do you think it touches in you? Perhaps you might like to write some thoughts in your journal about that. Do you feel quieter and more hopeful in the uncertainty? What might this say about you and your heart?