That Harry Connick Jr. movie insists that Hope Floats, and for the most part, I agree. But there are seasons in life where no matter how stubbornly buoyant my hope has been in the past, a sharp pointy object comes along and punctures it. Then hope is in pieces all over the pond, floating away.
On most spiritual paths I've walked, there is the belief (sometimes spoken, often not) that my hope is my responsibility. If it gets stabbed, shot, or stepped on, it's my fault for not taking better care of it. And it's up to me to find all the pieces and cobble it back together, STAT.
This is especially difficult in church settings, where my failure as hope's babysitter doesn't just let down some vague force or the universe, but God Himself. Yikes. Better get that special hope glue, or rush to the hope store and ask for a new line of credit... Because the only think worse than being hopeless is being hopeless and disappointing God.
Whatever feels safe, but it's not. It's evil, hidden in a Slanket, or Pajama Jeans.
The antidote to Whatever's poison is asking God for help. Prayer. Not in certain special words, but honest ones. One of my favorite grim passages in the Bible is this letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, where he admits how flat-out lousy life has been:
"We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many." (2 Corinthians 1:8-11. Read the full chapter here.)
Jesus is the answer to our despair. I don't get it, but I believe it is true. We reach out to Jesus via prayer. Prayer is the alternative to Whatever.
When I can't pray, I ask someone else to pray for me. I wonder if there isn't power in this act of asking...even if the person wanders off and forgets all about me, I suspect that God treats the asking someone else just as if I'd gone ahead and asked Him. (But that's just my theory.)
Today, instead of hiding under yards of fleece on the sofa, I'm going to pray: Dear Jesus, please repair my hope. Make it float. And then steer it, so it lands somewhere good and solid and true. Thank You. Amen.