3/31/19 – The Loss of Hope & Dreams

Posted on : Mar 28th, 2019 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

A number of years ago I was having dinner with a member of our church.  This person was really depressed.  At least a year before this meeting, he and his partner ended their relationship.  It had been a long, rocky road for them.  There was a lot of anger and resentment in their relationship before they broke up.  By the time they separated, there was very little, if any, love left between them.  Separating was one of the healthiest decisions they could have made.

As we were talking, this person said to me, “I don’t know why I feel so damned (not his exact word, but close enough for publication) depressed.   Our relationship was dead.  By the time we split, we really didn’t even love each other.  So why do I miss him so much?” 

I have to say, I was confused.  He was deeply grieving over a relationship that was not healthy.  So I asked a therapist friend of mine.   The therapist explained to me that grief is not always about physical death, but it is always about attachment and separation.  He suggested what our member might be experiencing was attachment to the idea or ideal of his relationship.  It’s not the person he was grieving, but the loss of the relationship. 

It is hard to let go and separate when we are afraid of the future.  Sometimes in the grieving process, we lose hope and we can’t see a future for ourselves.     When that happens, hanging on to something, even if it is hurtful or destructive feels better than hanging on to nothing. 

That’s the life and faith experience we encounter from the Israelites in this Sunday’s scripture.  They had finally been sent free from slavery. They were on their way to a new life, a new place, a new beginning.  But two and a half months into this journey, they lost their hope and vision.   Their “new found freedom” was more frightening than their experience as slaves. 

One aspect of grief that we seldom talk about, but which we need to talk about, is the experience in our lives when we can’t see or envision our future because we are so attached to our past.  Langston Hughes, the great African American poet laureate, wrote: “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” 

An important part of the grieving process is having the faith to embrace the future; but to do that, we often, we have to detach before we can move forward.

More on Sunday.

Lenten blessings to each of you!

Dan

Exodus 16

On the fifteenth day of the second month after they had left Egypt, the whole company of Israel moved on from Elim to the Wilderness of Sin which is between Elim and Sinai. The whole company of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron there in the wilderness. The Israelites said, “Why didn’t God let us die in comfort in Egypt where we had lamb stew and all the bread we could eat? You’ve brought us out into this wilderness to starve us to death, the whole company of Israel!”

God said to Moses, “I’m going to rain bread down from the skies for you. The people will go out and gather each day’s ration. I’m going to test them to see if they’ll live according to my Teaching or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they have gathered, it will turn out to be twice as much as their daily ration.”

That evening quail flew in and covered the camp and in the morning there was a layer of dew all over the camp. When the layer of dew had lifted, there on the wilderness ground was a fine flaky something, fine as frost on the ground. The Israelites took one look and said to one another, man-hu1 (What is it?). They had no idea what it was.

So Moses told them, “It’s the bread God has given you to eat. And these are God’s instructions: ‘Gather enough for each person; gather enough for everyone in your tent.’”

 

From The Message (MSG), Copyright © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

1 “Man-hu” is a Hebrew word meaning “What is it?”  Tradition has changed “Man-hu” to “Manna,”  as in “Manna in the Wilderness, or, “Bread) (as in “Bread of Life”).

 

 

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