MLK Day – Finite Disappointment, Infinite Hope

“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This post originally appeared in October of 2012 in the middle of a volunteer work week in which our team was helping to clean out the home of a woman who had fallen into a pattern of hoarding.  This post came to mind as I was thinking about Martin Luther King, Jr. Day which we are celebrating in the United States today.  I had a huge feeling of despair as I wrote this post over a year ago, but I have seen the other side.  The woman we helped is still living in the house.  Other experts have stepped in to help.  And she is now part of our H.O.P.E. serving small group.  Do we face disappointments in life?  Absolutely!  Is there still hope?  You bet.  Take a look at this post.  I hope you’ll find hope in the midst of whatever disappointment and despair you may be facing.

Over the past four days, I’ve been working with a team of people to clean up and empty out the home of an elderly woman in our community.  Each night this week, a team of 12-20 eager volunteers have arrived at the home ready to work.  They’ve put everything they have into this project, and they’ve remarkably emptied the main floor of 2 1/2 dumpsters full of trash.  It’s amazing what can be done when good people work together.

What has been challenging to me especially over the past two nights is the revelation of how bad things still are for this woman and her home.  As we’ve emptied rooms, we’ve discovered mold and mildew beyond anyone’s imagination.  And last night, a few of us journeyed into the basement to discover conditions that I can hardly describe without crying or vomiting.  She has been sleeping in this basement which is full of mold, trash, and raw sewage.

It became quite apparent last night that we had taken this project to a point that goes far beyond the scope that a team of untrained volunteers can handle.  On one hand, I’m so grateful for the powerful force of willing volunteers to get this project to this point.  And on the other hand, I feel so sad and over my head to realize that we may not be able to do much more right now to restore this woman’s home to a safe and healthy living environment.

So where do we go from here?  It’s a great question for which I don’t know the answer.  I know that there is still hope.  And I need to lean on this hope despite the huge disappointment.  I pray that the actions taken so far would not be a waste of time, energy, and money.  I pray that this woman’s life would be changed forever because of what has taken place this week.  I pray for the neighbors that they may know Christ’s love because of the actions taken this week.  And I pray for those who volunteered that they would live their lives differently because of what they saw this week.  Please pray for these things and for direction as we discern how to proceed from here.  Thanks!

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:8-18

That’s all I’ve got.  What keeps you going?  How have you seen disappointment and despair turn into hope?