Looking back and recognizing the breakthroughs and restorations of the past give us hope for the future. This is the second video in a four-part series on inspiring strength from Rev. Lisa Yebuah, of Southeast Raleigh Table.
18 You have not come to something[a] that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, 19 and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. 20 (For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”) 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly[b] of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
25 See that you do not refuse the one who is speaking; for if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject the one who warns from heaven! 26 At that time his voice shook the earth; but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what is shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; 29 for indeed our God is a consuming fire.
At the beginning of our crossfit workouts, my coach will typically give us a run-down of what we’ll be doing for the day. She’ll share best practices and what to expect physically and even mentally. One afternoon, she said to us, “There’s going to come a point in this workout when you’re going to think you’re going to die. But you won’t!” Immediately, I say to myself: “Lisa, what will you tell yourself when you think you’re going to die?”
The difficulty of crossfit pales in comparison to other challenges where perseverance in life has been a necessity.
There are a myriad of situations in my life when I’ve asked myself that same question - in the midst of heartache or when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the busyness of life. Or when I look at the suffering in this world — systems of oppression/racism/violence — all of the things that seem to steal life and not give life.
I imagine that’s why most of us live with an inner dialogue that propels us when we’re going through desperate situations. “This heartbreak surely won’t last forever.” “I’m not alone in my suffering.” “With time, all will be well.”
In the same way that children soothe themselves with a tangible item to bring them comfort, there’s an intangible called “FAITH” our head and hearts cling to when we’re faced with the dark night of the soul. Rev. Donna Coletrane Battle calls it “guarding our hope.”
This is how we guard our hope, cling to faith, and persevere: That inner dialogue we have is shaped by memories of times when we got to the other side, when the fog of depression lifted, when the grief slowly felt less like a death grip but a persistent friend. We think of moments when peace prevailed, when systems were dismantled, when new realities were created.
There’s something about looking back, not in a way where we get stuck, but in order to personally “rehearse God’s goodness” as Eugene Peterson puts it — to recount breakthroughs, light breaking in, life being restored.
And here’s what I also know: Maybe I don’t have a personal experience of seeing things turning around, but I can be assured there is someone around me who has overcome. I can look at the trajectory of their lives as a means of hope that in this life, we will have experiences that will absolutely threaten to undo us AND we will think it’ll never get better, think we’re going to die, BUT we won’t.
[Posted August 13, 2019]