Friday: A Journey of Hope

IMG_2866Our team’s first full day began with our fearless leader Marilyn reminding us of Paul’s words to the church in Rome about the present of presence, or why we show up: “…that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” (Romans 1:12) The day unfolded in the time spent at the Near East School of Theology (NEST) here in Beirut where we were mutually encouraged by the faith and testimony of past president Dr. Mary Mikhael, current president Dr. George Sabra and Syrian pastor Salam Hanna. At the weekly Friday chapel service at NEST, team member Rev. Kate Kotfila of Cambridge, New York, delivered a poignant reminder in her message that there is a transformation of suffering into hope. As Paul wrote in II Corinthians -  in the “but nots” – “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted by not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed.” (II Corinthians 4:7-9)

The gift of Kate’s message inspired the following lines.

Hope and the Lord of But Not

In a dark and scary place Suffering shows its grief-filled face A mother who waters her garden plot The rest place of a beloved son lost.

But from Paul’s words to the gathered in Rome He drives a gracious message home This suffering will not lead to despair But instead its product is to persevere From this state strong virtue comes forth And from that hope, and all it’s worth.

This wonderful gift of expectancy In God’s gracious dose of love and of mercy Reminds these fragile imperfect pots That he is the I AM, and we, well we’re not.

This hope that comes from faith in him Adds light to life that seems so dim Our pots are pressed on every side But not crushed or smashed or pulverized We are perplexed, we wonder why But not despairing, not high and dry Persecuted, yes, it hurts, it’s true But not abandoned by you know who Struck down so far we’re on our knees But not destroyed like sawed down trees.

This gift of hope in gracious God This shepherd who guides with staff and rod Gives life to us times of sorrow A hope of what comes with the morrow. We journey with him in this story And to him we will give all the glory.

Contributed by Julie Burgess and Barbara Exley