Lent Devotions: The burden of hope

Design by Doug Puller/Bread for the World.

Editor’s note: This Lent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).      

Rev. Dr. Garrett Andrew   

Luke 23:50-56

I found an arresting phrase in an essay by Jack Miles. He wrote about how Bertrand Russell said a soul needed to be built upon the foundation of unyielding despair, and how that idea gave him freedom from “the burden hope.”

Hope does feel like a burden sometimes. None of the gospel writers say much about Saturday. All Luke says is, “On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” Did they rest from the burden of hope?

They hoped in Jesus, and then were left alone. Many days feel like this Saturday that God was silent, that God was dead, if God ever were. We hold onto hope, but sometimes it is heavy, and we want to cast it aside and rest.

Yesterdays are filled with violence and despair and reasons to grieve and hurt and weep. Yesterdays haunt today. While resting, did they still hear Jesus scream out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Have you heard that cry? Have you cried it too? Do you know what James Weldon Johnson meant about “the days when hope unborn had died?”

I could say something about turning, but toward what? Somedays we turn and turn and turn and God is nowhere to be found, and we cry out, “Why have you forsaken me?”

Yet Elijah discovered God in silence. Can we? We can take a rest from hope. We can give in to despair. But, somehow God will speak again, somehow Sunday is coming, somehow God will interrupt our blues ballad, somehow hope will carry us to a place where we find out we are carrying hope once more. It is part of the strange alchemy of God’s grace. Rest today, because tomorrow hope will carry us away whispering, “You’re my burden now.” 

Rev. Dr. Garrett Andrew earned a Master of Divinity in 2006 from the San Francisco Theological Seminary.

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