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“Hope betrayed me.” I said it quietly, as if that would lessen the intensity with which I felt it. Last year hope was my word. I researched it. Wrote about it. Spoke about it at schools, and public speaking engagements. Hope was my word. Amidst the storm that is Covid I was flying a banner for hope.

It’s always been my word though. Well I guess more true to say it’s always been my lifestyle. A significant part of my faith journey. To me Jesus is all about hope. The bible is a story of hope from start to finish. Humans mess up, but God is about mercy and redemption and that is our hope. He is our hope.

So last year it was a natural thing to make hope my theme. It was a desperately difficult year. It started with me being marooned at a hospital 150 kilometres away from my family, leaving my husband alone with our kids during the initial hard lockdown. Family dinners over what’s app calls, while watching my precious family buckle under the pressure from so far away and not being able to do anything. But I kept trusting and fighting for hope, that Christ would carry my family through. And He did. Of course He did. That’s what he does. Every day I would don PPE and wield hope like an extra shield. The virus threatened my health but I would not let it touch my inner shalom peace. Only hope could keep the anxieties at bay. Hope in Gods loving kindness, his perfect protection. The year ended with my family burying three family members in quick succession and myself, my husband and both kids in isolation with Covid. But hope was my companion. Or more like my comrade in arms.

As the second wave closed out at the start of this year the landscape felt as if it was changing entirely. It felt as if things had started to ease and the waves of the storm had finally started to subside. I started looking around me and felt reassured. It felt like we were in maintenance mode with Covid, the waves would come but things would never be as bad as they were, surely. Now hope was unfettered and came easily.

And so a few weeks ago when the storm started rising again I was distraught. Hope betrayed me.

Proverbs reminds us in chapter 13 verse 12 that, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick”. I felt sick.

Last year when speaking on hope at a local high school I explained that the problem is in fact how we understand hope. Desmond Tutu believes “hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness”. Hope is not just a feel good emotion.

In many ways hope is a spiritual pursuit as it is anticipating something that you cannot see, for which you have no earthly certainty. In Romans 5:1-2 Paul describes what has been dubbed the hope cycle : “Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts”.

We see here that though we start with hope, suffering is inevitable: but through our suffering we gain perseverance and endurance which in turn produce character and character ultimately brings us more hope (which takes us back to the beginning of the cycle). Paul ends by saying hope does not shame or disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.

So after all it was not hope that betrayed me. Because hope is a love gift from God, and a powerful one at that. It is light to the darkness. No it was my own human frailty, and my tendency to look at my temporality to set me spiritual tone. Even though the storm is rising again and I can feel the waves crashing over the side of my boat. Even though anxieties plague me, which of my family members will we be burying this time? Or will it be me? Even in the midst of all of this yet I will hope. For my hope is in the Lord. And He does not disappoint.


Sarah Dlamini

Women Of Reverence welcomes Sarah Dlamini as a guest blogger.

Sarah is loved by God and counts that as the first privilege and blessing above all. She also has a husband and 2 children (a son and a daughter) who she loves inexhaustibly. As a medical doctor currently specializing in paediatrics Sarah is passionate about public health. At the end of her day’s she would want it to be said that she spared no part of herself in loving God as He has loved her and loving those around her as He asked her to do.

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