A few evenings ago, having just put wet clothes into my dryer, it stopped working. For a few minutes, I went through all the trouble-shooting measures recommended by the manufacturer, but nothing fixed the situation. Fortunately, there is a laundry room with a pay dryer that people who live in the building can use. The downside is I had to access it by going through my garage, which leads to an alley.
It was late evening on one of those rare, exceptionally cold Southern California nights. I was not exactly thrilled about opening my garage door to a view of a dark alley, but the thought of leaving those wet clothes in the dryer overnight spurred me into courageous action.
When I raised the door, I was surprised to see a woman standing in the alley across from my garage. She was shoeless and coatless. If I were to take a guess, those were all her worldly possessions spread on the ground in front of her. She had a lost look on her face, her hair was matted, and she had several teeth missing; nevertheless, she was smiling. Since space will not permit me to give all the details of the drama, I will summarize this approximately forty-five minute scenario.
I asked her if she had any place to stay for the night. She responded affirmatively. Her yes was followed by asking if I had a bag in which she could put her things. Next, she requested a blanket, but not a coat. I was able to give her one. She had a few more requests.
Several garage door openings and closings later, a large canvas bag, shoes for her feet, a blanket, and juice, she was ready to leave. I prayed for her and encouraged her to go to the shelter before their time for taking in people ended. Later, when I opened the garage door to go and remove my clothes from the dryer, she was gone.
This event graphically illustrates how you can instill hope into another person. (Hebrew definition means an “expectation of some good thing.”) Hope is the salve that helps lessen the pain of loss, the certainty of victory when the odds of winning are zero, good news, and strength when life is going to be cut short. It’s loyalty that holds fast and moves forward when everyone else turns away.
Among the remarkable Biblical examples of hope is the story of Gideon, who, by today’s standards, would probably be perceived as gutless and fearful. But according to Godly standards, he was a “valiant warrior.” (Judges 6:12) He tested God three times seeking a sign (of hope) that He could help him deliver Israel. Gideon finally gained courage, hoped in God, and with 300 “lappers” (Judges 7:7), was able to defeat thousands of Midianite troops and deliver Israel from bondage.
There is no shortage of needed hope. In fact, we all need it. Hopelessness is deeper than a financial or political issue. Hopelessness is a spiritual problem. No matter who you are, at some time in your life journey, you will need a good hope-soaking moment to revive your faith and keep you on track.
Ignoring women, children, and young people who live on the streets and are being exploited does not present a model of success or image of hope for our country. How many times can we go around or step over the homeless person(s) or families sleeping in a doorway, cardboard box, or on the beach? And lest we forget, remember the animals.
Each of us has been given the gift of hope. Today, stir up and activate that gift to pass on to whomever and wherever it is needed. What a wonderful blessing when we venture out to make a major investment of hope (expectation of some good thing) in the life of another.