The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Hope in hopelessness

The Spirit is usually depicted as a gentle dove. One author, however, has depicted the Advocate as a different kind of bird, a bird of prey with sharp talons that don't let go. This is the manifestation of the Spirit that I have become familiar with in the last few months.

During this time I've become unemployed. With the ensuing loss of income, I've entered the realm of the unknown and uncomfortable. I don't know what the near future holds. Where will I find my next job? How long will it take? In the meantime, how will I make ends meet? I'll have to do things I don't want to do. Looking for a job, especially in this economy, is a difficult, frustrating and sometimes humiliating process. Prospective employers make you fill out excruciatingly long questionnaires and demand a plethora of personal information — and most often never even provide the courtesy of a response.

Soon I'll have to start to triage my bills: what has to be paid, what can be delayed and how long can I delay it? How will I cope with the consequences of the delays?

The Spirit, with his talons, has pushed and pulled me to this realm of uncertainty where I never would have gone willingly. He has taken me here to teach me a lesson I didn't want to learn. Other than frantically looking for a job I have no clear idea of what I'm going to do to get through the forthcoming days, weeks and maybe months. In many ways the future looks hopeless. Herein lies the lesson. In hopelessness there is hope.

I don't have any answers. I have to trust God, there is no other choice. I have to use the gifts I have and trust in God for the rest. I've known this, of course, for most of my life. But I too often let my mind stray from this precept. So the Spirit eschewed the gentle nudgings of a dove for more direct action.

While the Advocate has used his talons to get my attention, he has also provided me with a means to bring comfort in my trying times. I present the problem to the Spirit and say a prayer. I suggest the following prayer by theologian and author J.H. Newman:

"My God I adore thee, as the third person of the ever-blessed Trinity. Thou art the living love, wherewith the Father and Son love each other. And thou art the author of supernatural love in our hearts. Increase in me this grace of love, in spite of all my unworthiness. It is more precious than anything else in the world. I accept it in place of all the world can give me. It is my life."

You then envision yourself and the Spirit presenting your burden to Jesus and recite the Anima Christi written by Ignatius of Loyola:

"Soul of Christ sanctify me. Body of Christ save me. Blood of Christ inebriate me. Water from the side of Christ cleanse me. Passion of Christ strengthen me. In you sacred wounds hide me and permit me never to be separated from you. Protect me from the malignant power of the Enemy. At the hour of my death bid me come into your presence in order that I may worship you in the company of all your saints forever and ever."

Accompanied by the Spirit and Jesus you find yourself in the presence of God the Father. You recite the Our Father. Your have been freed from your burden, it has been relinquished to the Trinity.





Posted at 10:37 pm (U.S. Eastern) 9/21/2010

Best wishes to Alfred Fial in his search for employment.  So many are struggling to find work or to find enough work to support themselves and their families adequately.  It is a frightening time.  I think it's right to call our attention to prayer and trust in God as the correct antidote to fear.

Brian Smith

Brian Smith

Posted at 6:40 am (U.S. Eastern) 10/1/2010

sometimes hopelessness is a good situation to be in to realize the hope we have in the Lord

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