A lively hope

by Ginny Luedeman


Reprinted from the April 2006 issue of The Christian Science Journal.

As a little girl, I loved lying on the dock at our summer cabin and looking up at the stars in the dark night sky. I felt very small, but not insignificant. Although I seemed only a speck in a vast universe, I was important enough to be there—and that gave me hope.

As an adult, though, finding reason for hope hasn’t always been so simple. This world can seem pretty daunting with all of its ups and downs, and sometimes it’s easy to feel insignificant and discouraged.

When things do seem difficult and hope dim, I often remember a song called “High Hopes” that I learned from my mother. “Just what makes that little old ant / Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant?” the song asks. “Anyone knows an ant can’t move a rubber tree plant, / But he’s got high hopes . . . .” And what do you know? Against all odds, that little creature does move a rubber tree plant—and apparently more than one!

Even though this song might seem frivolous, it points to a higher hope—a hope in something beyond our own abilities, a “high” hope that is anchored in our relationship to God.



Spiritual hope is grounded in our connection to God.


Hope based merely on a material sense of things can turn to disappointment quickly, because it isn’t rooted in anything solid or lasting. But spiritual hope is grounded in the unseen connection we each have to our Father-Mother God. And, like this connection to God, it is unchanging.

Spiritual hope grows from our willingness to trust, listen to, and follow our Father-Mother. And because this hope is God-centered, it gives our lives buoyancy and keeps us going, no matter what the so-called odds. Hope moves us from a limited sense of things to infinite possibilities and solutions. And in that place there is healing.

Christ Jesus’ life revealed the reason for “a lively hope,” as the Bible puts it. In his example, we find our undying relationship to God. His resurrection lifted mankind to a hope beyond anything the world has ever known, by demonstrating our link to a powerful and loving Parent who resurrects and preserves us from disease, sin, and even death. And Jesus’ example is for each of us.

We are saved as we understand what his life was witness to: the yielding of material sense to the spiritual sense of existence. As we discover that God is Love, all that would oppose the nature of God is eliminated—proved to be nothing but a false belief.



We discover that God is Love.


During the early years of my marriage, I was called upon to hope in this fact—God is Love—as I never had before. Before meeting my husband, Craig, I’d made a list of “male” qualities, and qualities I associated with relationships. I’d become so familiar with those spiritual qualities that even before we met, I felt very complete. Our marriage was a natural step, happening quickly and joyously.

Several years into our marriage, Craig was serving as a Christian Science Army Chaplain in Korea, when he became very ill. Halfway through his tour he was sent back to the United States—to North Carolina, all the way across the country from our home in California.

Depressed, and feeling weak and hopeless, Craig felt that it would be better for me to stay at home with our children, and he told me so. He even suggested that a divorce would free me from the burden of his condition. He said he would send me his wedding ring.



I knew giving up wasn't the answer.


I felt like I’d been thrown from the heights of joy into a nightmare. Looking at the human picture, there seemed to be little, if any, hope. Instinctively I knew that giving up wasn’t the answer. But what should I do?

A move seemed out of the question—too much military red tape, which could take months. Meanwhile, Craig’s condition was worsening, and we had no place to move to. Then there was the issue of money, along with the fact that we didn’t know anyone in North Carolina. And the thought of driving alone with two small children clear across the US seemed impossible.

A line from the Christian Science Hymnal helped me so much during this time. Speaking of the contrast between a human view of existence and God’s view, it says, “When all material streams are dried, / Thy fullness is the same . . . ” (John Ryland, No. 224).

I remember thinking that I was holding God’s hand and He mine. I would put my hope in a higher power—in His fullness—even if I couldn’t see it. My job was to listen and to take whatever steps God directed me to take.



A sweet hope comforted me.


As I turned my thoughts to God, a sweet hope began to comfort me. I knew that the spiritual qualities I had discovered before meeting Craig were still with us, that they were still husbanding me, fathering the children, and that they were sustaining my dear husband, no matter what seemed to be going on.

I began to see that being hopeful in a dire situation isn’t naive, but intelligent, because hope is an acknowledgment of the presence of a divine law that supports and comforts each of us—and brings solutions to light.

Listening carefully for divine guidance, I made calls and took steps that quickly brought results. The military moved us without orders, which to our knowledge had never been done before. On a moment’s notice, a friend drove with me to North Carolina. My extended family was wonderful, helping with many details.



Our needs were met every day.


When we arrived, though, the situation didn’t look good: Craig couldn’t even tie his shoes. Over the next few months there was little improvement. But a wonderful sense of spiritual hope continued to support and encourage me. Each day our needs were met. New friends helped with the children and comforted me when things got difficult.

Military doctors predicted that my husband would not be able to function either physically or mentally for a long period of time—if ever again. They recommended that he be hospitalized and placed on drugs. But the hope that was growing in my heart wouldn’t allow me to accept this verdict.

In spite of great resistance from the general of the post, I refused to go along with this recommendation and chose instead to rely completely on Christian Science treatment, which is what I knew my husband would want as well. I knew that it was impossible for the spiritual qualities Craig expressed to be silenced. They belonged to him forever as a loved child of God in the same way that rays of sunshine can never be separated from the sun.



It was more than a healing—it was a rebirth.


Hope and prayer, inspired by a growing awareness of the presence of Love, brought gradual restoration and complete healing over a year’s time. And it wasn’t just a healing—it was a rebirth.

Not only was Craig’s health restored, but he was also roused to great kindness and to deep gratitude. He was even able to successfully complete 32 years of military service in the reserves, serving the last five years as a supervisory chaplain for a three-state area.

I also experienced a new birth. I learned that I could persevere and remain faithful during tough times, instead of running away, which had been a pattern in my past. My life became less self-centered and more service-oriented.

Together, Craig and I found a spiritual reason to persist, to have confidence in God even in the bleakest of circumstances—and we have relied on that solid hope during many trials since then.

Now, when Craig and I think about that difficult time, we understand more fully what the Psalmist meant when he wrote, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”

The fact that we can trust God to bring us out of our darkest hours is a promise of hope for everyone.

A promise of hope:

Science and Health:
45:17
King James Bible:
I Pet. 1:3
Ps. 43:5


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Ginny Luedeman

 

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