Holy Spirit Hope

I came across a quote that I thought was both true and sad at the same time and it stuck in my head. It goes like this, "It is hard for an empty sack to stand upright." from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, 1791. I have visualized an empty sack that was somehow able to move on its own power, trying to stand upright. It is a funny thing to imagine, and the more I thought about it the funnier my imaginings of it became.

Maybe the reason that quote from Ben Franklin got stuck in my mind was because of some of the conversations that I had with people that I met and overheard while traveling to and from New Jersey visiting my sister Janet before her illness and death. I noticed that there was a good amount of encouraging and lighthearted conversation that was really nice to engage in and hear in the airports and on the airplanes randomly during a very difficult time.

We are in springtime when the world in this hemisphere is renewing itself. We can see that in more than just the natural world, we are very much aware of renewal that we are eagerly waiting for as we ease ever closer to being allowed to gather without the strict safety protocols that we endured for our own good and the overall health of this nation. I wanted and needed to hear signs of greater connectedness and joy because it helped me to be more upbeat for my sister Janet, to give her as much supportive energy and good cheer as I could pour into her, during the final leg of her journey on this earth.

Meanwhile, here at home, my time in ministry in the months before I left for New Jersey was a time spent with several of our members who were going through the final rounds of their own journeys on earth just before I went to help care for Janet. My spiritual sack had little power and energy left in it. Janet's condition changed rapidly, too soon for me to have time to recover. On my way to see her, I felt like I needed to be filled with much more strength than I had to provide for her and my other family members while I was visiting.

That quote from Benjamin Franklin stuck in my head because I could see myself as a nearly empty spiritual sack struggling to stand upright. It was hard, but it was made possible, in part, by the families who lost their loved ones. They ministered to me, though they did not know it. They had hope, even in the midst of their loved ones dying. They took time to share their spiritual hope with me in ways they would never have imagined possible while they grieved. It is most often in our weakest moments that we are the strongest in spirit.

Is this a time of tiredness, weakness, hardship, or emptiness in your life? Is your spiritual, physical, and emotional sack feeling vacant? You know that you can be working with a high degree of functionality, taking care of all the tasks and responsibilities that you have always done, and still be a nearly empty sack spiritually and emotionally.

Where do you turn to fill your empty sack with hope? What evidence of hope exists in your life? Can you give an example of or an illustration of hope that you trust in and cling to when your empty sack is trying to stand upright?

In the Bible reading for this Sunday from Romans 8:22-27, there is a spiritual prescription being set forth for those who are stricken by the empty sack syndrome. When you read it, find out what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote about waiting for something to be given that is essential to life. We need a critical element that is prescribed to receive that which is essential to our life, and that element is only delivered to us by one source - accept it. Amen.

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