Eagle soaring over a wooded hillside in Alaska at sunset.

Our Hope Soars Above Our Fears

The Ability To Hope

We all have the ability to hope. But do we have the ability to persevere in hope during the darkest days of our lives?

No matter how hopeless a situation appears, no matter what the world throws at us or how often we have failed, our ability to hope is always within us.

Like A Whirlpool

Have you ever felt that a situation was hopeless? At the time, did you feel that there was simply no way out, no chance for rescue or relief from the pain and suffering or impending doom? Such feelings seem to feed on themselves, to grow even stronger. We liken it to a downward spiral as if we are caught in a whirlpool.

A Rock and a Hard Place

Perhaps, instead of a whirlpool, you felt you were caught between a rock and a hard place, as Aron Ralston was in 2003. You may have heard the story, or seen the movie made about the incredible incident. It was called “127 Hours”.

Colors of purple and orange grace the sandstone walls of a slot canyon.

The date was April 26th of 2003. Aron was “canyoneering” alone in Utah in Blue John Canyon, a “slot canyon” which is a narrow, winding chasm eroded over many years. He was 8 miles from his vehicle. A cardinal rule in such adventures is to let others know of one’s plans. Then, should you get into trouble, should you not check in at an expected date and time, help will be sent.

Aron had not told a soul of his plans. That oversight would cost him dearly.

As Aron was climbing down into the canyon, an 800-pound boulder became dislodged and his right hand was tragically crushed and pinned against the canyon wall. It would lead to what he would later say was “six days of terror and horror.”

Aaron had little food (two burritos) and little water. He tried for several days to free his trapped arm, all to no avail. Temperatures dropped at night and his strength wained. His hope of rescue was gone. He decided he would have to do the unthinkable: he would need to amputate his arm at the mid-forearm.

Antelope Canyon with light filtering down from above.

I’m not going to relate the details as they are truly ghastly to contemplate. You can read the story in his own words in his autobiography called “A Rock and a Hard Place.” But he did eventually climb out of that canyon, leaving his right hand and part of his arm behind. He also lost 40 pounds and nearly his life.

But Aron didn’t lose his life due to not having lost the most important thing he needed to keep going – hope.  He would later tell his mother that he felt all the prayers that she and others were praying.  In a video called “Desperate Days in Blue John Canyon” (search on YouTube for that title) he would tell Tom Brokaw:

“I prayed about seeking guidance, what I was supposed to do, finding an option that was going to get me out of there.”

Don’t Believe a Lie!

Sometimes troubles come in waves. One thing happens to us, and then another, and another. Read the Book of Job in the Bible. We may fortunately not have the scope of losses that Job had or get trapped in a slot canyon.  But life is full of challenges, and when dark threads are woven into our lives we can get to a point, like Job, in which we also wish we had never been born.  We can believe it is hopeless.

There is a key word in that last sentence. Belief. Hopelessness is not a fact, it is a belief. But such a belief may be based on a lie we are either being told by others or are telling ourselves. How many of us, should we have been Aron struggling against that boulder for six days, would have given up all hope? Yet clearly, we would have been wrong to do so.  We must never believe we are hopeless.

Our Prayer For You

We pray that you might come to know the One in whom we put our hope. We pray that your heart might soar with the eagle each day at the rising and the setting of the sun.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.
~ Ephesians 1:18-19

Photography by John J O’Leary

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