Today we hear from a woman who due to the sensitive nature of her story has asked to remain anonymous. She shares openly about her feelings of living in South Africa today. This is her story, which she has entitled Hoping For Hope.
A few years ago I sat in a conference room half way across the world and listened to a business coach tell a corporate team how to ensure success through mindset. Though much of what he was saying I was familiar with, when he started suggesting words that did and didn’t reflect a success mindset, there was one word we strongly disagreed on . Hope.
Hope was a word he associated with a whimsical dreamlike unrealistic wish for success. He said it held no substance, but that simply isn’t the same definition in my mind. To me hope is everything. It’s a certain, inspiring confidence that has been my lifeline through good times and bad.
We debated the word for some time, but he simply couldn’t understand my point of view. Perhaps it was because I explained my hope is not in something tangible or my own skills and abilities and to him this was a foreign concept. The simple truth is that my hope is in a God that has proven faithful to me even when everything has felt hopeless.
Time and time again, when I’ve given up, hung my head in despair and cried out in anguish, hope has appeared as if from nowhere. It’s often been a random, unexplained solution from a completely unlikely source. But still hope has appeared and the thing I thought would be the end of it all has been a catalyst for something better, making me stronger in the process.
Last week I saw my dreams shattered once again. 10 weeks pregnant, in the middle of the night I started to bleed and by morning the hemorrhaging was so severe we knew I’d miscarried. By the time we got to hospital the bleeding couldn’t be contained and I was rushed straight into surgery. When I came out I was numb. I couldn’t believe that I could be fine the one day and for everything to be lost the next. Nothing had set it off, it just happened. The chance for a family gone, just like that.
But we are not without hope. I’m devastated by the loss, my husband is too, but we are not without hope.
We’ve been married a few years and as we’re both older we were in two minds about having a family. We’re active and independent and we knew that would change with children. We do ok financially, but we aren’t that well off and there was a very real concern about being able to provide adequately for a family. Schooling, clothing and just life in general is getting so expensive. Then lastly and perhaps the biggest concern has been: What kind of world are we bringing our child into? What hope is there for a future in South Africa? It’s our home and we don’t want to live anywhere else, but is there hope enough for a future in this country?
Considering our recent loss well-meaning friends might tell us it’s for the best, that South Africa doesn’t have a future hope anyway. But what if they’re wrong. What if there’s something else going on that we have no idea about. If things can change from good to bad overnight, maybe things can change from bad to good too.
I’ve recently been studying the book of Ester in the bible. It’s one of my favourites. If there’s ever a story of hope in the face of hopelessness, it’s to be found in Ester. Consider that many South African’s are in a similar position to the Jews in the time of Ester. Though we are not slaves we are subject to an authority that is seemingly all-powerful and untouchable and our lives take the brunt of their whimsical decisions and indifference to our needs.
In Ester, in the midst of certain destruction . a decree to legally kill thousands of Jews throughout the Empire, an orphan finds herself in a position of influence. How likely is that? Ester, as queen can ask to turn the edict around, but it is not without risk. She does not have the authority to change the edict on her own and her efforts could amount to nothing. Going before the king unsummoned could have her killed before she even gets a word out, in fact according to custom it’s quite likely that’s exactly what’ll happen. Yet in a series of unexpected events, Ester manages to prevent the massacre of the Jews. There’s so much more to the story, but you’ll have to read it yourself to get the juicy bits.
My point is that despite the circumstances we find ourselves in, in South Africa, what if you are part of God’s unexpected plan. What if through random events, through no wisdom, skill or ability of your own, you could play a part in restoring hope in our country? What if your child is the voice that gets the ear of an authority at the right time and place that can turn things around? What if the simple kindness you teach your children encourages them to reach out and make a connection with someone less fortunate that majorly impacts their life? What if today the things you do impact others in a positive way and you aren’t even aware of it?
Is this a whimsical dreamlike wish without foundation as that business coach would have me believe, or is this hope something so strong that it can build a nation even when they feel hopeless? My hope is in the people and the knowledge that God loves South Africa. That even amidst the anger and hate, South Africans have a compassionate heart. I see clear evidence of this whenever there are disasters, because communities rally to help. When there are wildfires people go out to fight the flames, others make sandwiches and carry ice boxes of cool drinks up the rocky slopes to the firefighters. Still others provide blankets, food and furnishings to people who lost their homes. Then there are sporting events where the whole nation comes together in support and celebration when we win or commiseration when we lose.
I get that there are times when things seem so hopeless that we want to give up. What’s the point if the only result is pain and disappointment? What’s the likelihood of anything changing anyway? Wouldn’t it be nice to have guarantees? I’ll stay in South Africa if:: What exactly would that condition be?
But what if it’s not up to the government or everyone else in South Africa, what if it’s up to you?
Will we try have another child? . maybe, maybe not, it’s a hard decision to make now because there are no guarantees. But this I do know: that even in the midst of despair and pain there is hope, because there is love and compassion. I saw it last week as my husband held my hand as I bled out over the doctors rooms, I felt it in the gentle touch of the nurse, a complete stranger, who rubbed my shoulder as the tears streaked down my face while waiting for surgery.
I know that there is hope, because when things seem most hopeless and so dark we can’t see past the pain, something touches us to remind us that God’s in control. If we can see it or feel it even for a moment, it’s that hope that gives us the strength we need to carry on. God never walks out on us and fails to return. If He cares that much to give insignificant me hope in the hopelessness, how much more can he do for our nation?
These three things remain: faith, hope and love. Keep hoping on hope, it’s stronger than you believe.
What a beautifully courageous story right?
I found myself being challenged with every paragraph. I find myself on the fence – On the one hand I’m all about trying to remain positive and hopeful, but on the other hand I get so anxious about what our kids future holds. I hope you felt encouraged and challenged too?
And don’t forget to email me should you wish to share your story too! firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week we hear from a family living abroad and how their journey led them there.