This sixth and final installment of Journey to Hope, is about a topic that usually doesn’t make us think about hope. It is suffering. Is there hope in suffering?
The video that I shared above is a very interesting conversation between the regular Journey to Hope hosts and a chaplain that works in hospice care. In the course of the conversation with Cathy Chalmers, I was reminded of the power of presence. While in the midst of suffering, many search for questions. There is a tendency to want to provide easy answers. It is much more difficult, and I believe much more faithful, to allow someone to remain in the questions. To walk with someone in their trial is something I wrote one of my first blogs about. You can read it here.
Another important thing I took from this conversation is the difference between healing and cure. It might not be a difference that many people acknowledge, but it is vitally important to know that there is a difference between being healed and being cured. I’d even argue that they are mutually exclusive.
For there to be true hope in the face of suffering, there must be a chance for healing. Cure can be temporary. Healing is eternal. Suffering can take many forms. Sickness, disease, poverty, hunger, despair, loneliness. It is all suffering. It is all pain. In the midst of suffering, hope can seem very far away. There are many times in life when cure and healing seem to overlap. If you are hungry, the cure is food. If you are sick, a cure is health. Yet seeking cure is sometimes treating a symptom.
Healing comes from the source of life. Bread may cure someone’s hunger, but they will inevitably be hungry again. Healing comes from the bread of life, which is eternal. Medicine may cure someone’s sickness, but all medicine – no matter how effective – is simply a stall tactic. Healing comes from embracing life eternal. Healing comes from the Holy Spirit that makes all things new.
I have seen people die of cancer that were never cured, but were truly healed. I have seen the spirit of someone facing death with courage, hope, and grace. That kind of strength doesn’t need a cure to live. That kind of strength comes from knowing the value of life.
It is possible to be healed without cure. It is possible to have peace in the face of death. That kind of peace comes from knowing that life was lived to its fullest. That life was spent in loving relationships. That life was spent in service to God and to humanity.
That kind of peace comes from knowing that this breath is the only one that matters. That right now life matters. Right now it is possible to love, laugh, embrace, teach, and inspire. Right now is all that any of us have.
That kind of peace comes from the assurance that right now isn’t all there is. It comes from knowing that the tomb was empty. It comes from knowing that death cannot hold the human soul. It comes from knowing that Christ died with us and will rise with us.
I have been a witness to that kind of peace. That gives me hope. I have seen the good news and I know that kind of peace is available to all. Suffering may not be cured, but healing is offered to all.
I am a witness to hope.
Hope can come in the form of God’s presence.