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Well now, that was a tough week. Really tough. And to think I started it with a hopeful little post on winning.  Yes …

The day after I spoke about a potential shift in violence and hatred we woke up to the news of the Boston bombing and the news since then has been less than hopeful. Closer to home it has felt just as tough…

But here’s the thing.

That post was part of a sermon I gave on Sunday morning as a visitor at a new church community. It was an awesome service, hopeful and challenging at the same time – a kind of mountain top experience, but as I drove away I found myself feeling down and anxious. I asked myself why, why should I feel so heavy after what was by all accounts a positive experience – the still small voice within whispered ‘because now you have to do the hard work which flows out of your hopeful belief that change and transformation are possible’.

hope lineOur seminary is set in a post-apartheid context, a context which is still in need of miraculous healing. Division and disunity abound. As part of the student council I sit in meetings which are aimed at improving and facilitating effective community life, but rather than see us work together for the good of the whole I see us continue to hurt each other, disrespect each other, try to pull one another down. Thursday was a particularly low point, not just for the week, but for my entire time here at seminary. I came back to my room after a day of community meetings feeling like we are not winning here at all, but in fact regressing.  My heart felt bloody and bruised. I had witnessed people I care about get torn apart based purely on their role as leaders. (I had a dream that night that the length of one side of my room had collapsed and was now standing open to the elements, my level of vulnerability as part of that leadership team exposed for all to see.)

By grace this week, one of the Lectionary texts is Psalm 23. The still small voice inside has continued to whisper on a loop, ‘don’t give up, don’t give up, don’t give up’. And so I won’t. How can I when every fibre of my being tells me we are moving in the right direction even when all signs point to the contrary. I will not walk away and I will not lose hope that change is possible and that change is coming. I feel so very strongly that my ironic little post was God’s way of preparing me for this week and all its attendant challenges. Hope is not hope if it is not tested, if it is not put into practice and so I will continue to work for the good, I will continue to try to love those who have hurt and who will hurt again and I will trust God to walk with me through the valley.

In the words of Florence ‘it’s always darkest before the dawn’ …