Dedicated to Bill Sweeney, his wife Mary and their family
Some years are unforgettable, some we wish we could forget.
Just as 2001 marked the beginning of an era of fear from terrorism, 2020 marked the beginning of an era of fear from pandemics. The former featured attacks by a visible enemy, the latter attacks by an invisible one. In both cases, our response has been isolation: in 2001 we closed our borders, in 2020 we closed our front doors. But while protection from external threats is attainable, protection from internal threats—anxiety, loneliness, depression—seems increasingly unattainable.
Is there an antidote, not just to COVID-19 but to fear itself? We hear a lot of gauzy references to “hope” these days. But too often they sound like baseless bromides. Many self-proclaimed realists push back, reminding us that, sure, hope-plus-three-bucks might get you a cup of coffee, but the barista who sells it to you just might kill you.
But there’s a different kind of hope. One that isn’t based on circumstances. Because the harsh truth is that we’re all going to die “of” something, and we can never know just when or how.
But until then we can live, really live—if we choose to. Because the true meaning of hope is to live for a purpose, for something bigger than death.
Many years ago, I found hope as a fearful young man with nothing left to lose, at least nothing worth keeping. It wasn’t in the promises of scientists or politicians, or even family and friends. It was in the love of my Creator. And, no, it hasn’t made me immune to COVID-19, or the ravages of aging.
It’s the same Unshakeable Hope my dear friend Bill Sweeney lived for and blogged about, despite living 24 years with a condition that robbed him of all physical movement and speech. It’s the unshakeable hope that made him immune to real death, eternal death, and now—just days after his final post—has opened the door to eternity with his Creator.
And it’s why these words resonate so deeply with me:
“Do not fear what they fear; do not be shaken. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. And always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you the reason for the hope that is in you.” ~1 Peter 3:14-15
Yes, I have a reason to hope.