Scripture text – Romans 8:24-25 – For in this Hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not Hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
On October 13, 2010, more than one billion people worldwide watched in awe as 33 miners from Chile, trapped 2300 feet underground for 69 days, were finally rescued. As the miners emerged, they were greeted by floods of relatives, friends, and well-wishers, some of whom, for the entire time they were trapped, had camped out in a tent settlement dubbed Campamento Esperanza, or CAMP HOPE. For the first 17 days after the mine collapsed, those on the outside had no contact with the trapped miners, they had no idea that they were alive, yet they set up CAMP HOPE and waited every day, expecting that something good would happen.
Likewise, the trapped miners had no contact with the outside world for the first 17 days, yet, they held on in faith, and every day they woke up expecting something good to happen that day. Eventually, it did, and drilling finally yielded results when a note appeared attached to the drill informing that all 33 miners were safe underground. Even after that note went up, It took another 52 days to figure out a rescue plan that eventually brought all 33 men safely to the surface. One of the miners, in a statement, said that even though he was not religious, they all felt the presence of a 34th miner. “God himself,” he said, was in that mine with them and orchestrated their rescue.
First and foremost, hope motivates us to keep going, even when things seem impossible or insurmountable. When we have Hope, we believe that better days are ahead and that we can make positive changes in our lives and in the world around us. As our scripture text reminds us, there is no need to hope for something we can see. I would assume that all of us in this room are hoping that we will live long, beautiful, meaningful lives and see our children and grandchildren grow and head off on their individual paths in life. Yet, we have no guarantee that it will happen because tomorrow is promised to no one. Yet, we wake every day filled with HOPE that that day will not be our last. Even if things are miserable, we hang on, believing there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Someone who has HOPE is not likely to end their life, and the persons who have lost HOPE see suicide as a viable option.
Hebrews 11: 1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things HOPED for, the evidence of things not seen.” We don’t see right now how things will work out, but we keep hoping, and as we keep hoping and believing in faith, that which we think will become a reality. If we don’t have HOPE, we will never receive the evidence. We have to keep HOPING.
In Exodus Chapter 14, we read the story of Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. They were still celebrating when they heard that Pharaoh and the Egyptian army were coming after them. Sounds familiar? If it’s not one thing, it’s one thing, life will constantly throw us curve balls from all directions, and even if we are Yogi Berra or Johnny Bench, two of the greatest Baseball catchers in history, some of those balls will hit us and sometimes, hit us hard.
I still remember when a close family member had a severe accident, and we were unsure if he would survive. As family members raced to the hospital, me being in another country, could only pray for a miracle. Being so far away was not helping, and I just kept believing we would get good news. Hope was dim as the reports came in- my family member was just motionless on a hospital bed, hooked up to many tubes and machines that were impossible to count. My brother, who was at the hospital, said his first glimmer of Hope was when a nurse entered the room and greeted them with a smile. Despite her smile and warm introductions, my brother said he could tell from her face that she was as concerned as he was about the patient’s condition. Doctors eventually swarmed the room and worked tirelessly with the patient. He said as they worked, he did not stop to think about what kind of day they might have had nor asked any of them if they were ok. He didn’t enquire if everything was ok on their home fronts or if any of them were physically well themselves. His only concern was that they needed to care for his family member to ensure he would eventually leave the hospital.
As healthcare professionals, you work hard, give your best efforts, and go beyond the call of duty. Often, no one returns to say thank you. In Luke 17:17, Jesus asked, “Were there, not ten lepers cleansed? But where are the nine? You see, Jesus had just given life back to 10 persons who had been handed a death sentence and ostracized from their families and society because they had leprosy. They fell at Jesus’s feet and begged for mercy, and he healed them, but only one remembered his kindness and returned to thank him. I am sure if I asked you, you would say that you can count the number of patients on one hand who ever return to thank you for the care you provided them during a hospital visit or prolonged stay in the hospital. However, even though the majority did not return to say “thank you,” it did not stop Jesus from doing good for others.
Let’s face it, your job can sometimes be a thankless one, but you keep going anyway. Sometimes you say, “What’s the use” and you want to give up but think of that person who is depending on you and will eventually turn back with thanks. To complicate matters, sometimes the work environment is not as friendly as you would like, the working conditions leave much to be desired and your hours are too long. Many healthcare professionals risk losing their own families as they spend tireless hours caring for other people’s families. Sometimes you want to give up.
During the pandemic, it was worst; some of you lost loved ones, friends, colleagues, and even family members. You stood by helplessly, as despite all you did, you watched patients breathe their last breath, yet you kept going.
I invite you today to join Camp HOPE, where there is always space for weary, tired souls. The motto of Camp HOPE is taken from Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you HOPE and a future.
HOPE kept 33 miners alive after being trapped 2300 feet underground for 69 days. HOPE kept the children of Israel marching bravely through the dry ground on what a few minutes before was the red sea. HOPE kept my family member alive as he fought for his life after a terrible accident, and HOPE will keep every one of you as you continue to persevere in this vocation that God called you into before you were formed in your mother’s wombs.
Today, I tip my hat to you and remind you of Galatians 6:9, which says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Let’s keep HOPE alive. Things will get better.
For those of you who have not yet met the coordinator of Camp HOPE, I invite you to meet Jesus. As stated in Exodus 3: 14, he is the I AM THAT I AM. Whatever you need him to be to you, he is that and so much more. I encourage you to invite him into your hearts and let him journey with you. You do not have to walk this journey alone.
According to Desmond Tutu. “Hope is seeing that there is light despite all the darkness.”
Jesus is that light, and today he offers you HOPE.