Mountain-top experiences are a gift.
They're memorable and notable because they stand out from our ordinary. They take us somewhere greater than ourselves. They remind us of grandeur and majesty, peace and security.
Then we come back down to life. And I'm talking about real-world life, not just piles of laundry.
We face the realities of our envy and pride and ugliness.
We hear stories of kids sold for sex, masses of children in foster care waiting for families, and the starvation of little ones abroad.
A friend has cancer and a neighbor's family, literally 20 feet away, has completely fallen apart.
We try to cling to our mountain-top moments but they seem to elusively slip through our fingers. We are left with the real state of things.
And it can start to feel that those mountain-top moments were simply a mirage. We start to question how we could be so foolish as to be swept away by their promises of hope, when the reality is that we are just plain broken and so is our world.
You have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (John 16:22)
For most of us, real life isn't lived on the top of a mountain. And we don't spend our days suspended in the glory of sunrises and sunsets.
But it's how we press on in the moments between the mountain-top experiences that matter.
I think we are given tangible glimpses of beauty to hold as reminders of who God is and what He says.
We are called to go and live authentic, humble, and sacrificial lives in the world, but not without great hope.
I regularly hear stories of deep suffering -- from the horrors of child sex-trafficking through my husband's work with Love146, to the first-hand accounts of militia raids faced by my refugee friends during their years in the camps, to the foster care stories we've sat through in hours of training.
Honestly, there are moments when shadows begin to cloud my view. I think about how ridiculous it must seem for me to claim truths about hope in God when I've never experienced the atrocities so much of the world has. Those mountain-top moments feel quite distant.
But then as quickly as the cloud darkened my thoughts, a piercing ray of sunlight pushes through.
There is always hope.
That's what He promises. That's what I've experienced. And if I choose not to believe that, I might as well give up.
I see hope in the thousands of abolitionists rising up. I see it when the refugee woman whispers to my friend in our obscure little meeting place that she has experienced Jesus and has given her life over to Him. And there's hope in the way God's moving within the Church to respond to the massive orphan and foster care needs.
Not only does He promise hope, He lived it. Jesus came and faced the very real trials and sorrows faced by mankind, and allowed the burdens of the world to rest on His shoulders.
He's not a disengaged bystander. He's intricately and intimately involved in a way far greater than I can see or understand.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
The thing is, whether we feel like it or not there is hope. Whether or not I feel I've earned the right to claim that is kind of irrelevant.
The sun will rise tomorrow morning, Lord willing, and just as sure are the Lord's promises of hope for those who call upon Him.