I’ll never forget the day death came to shake me out of my comfort zone. Rain falling over the windshield. Temperature dropping. Three young girls just out for some fun. Laughing as we cruised through the night, passing light after light. I looked over at my friend as she held the wheel, completely unaware that the next light had turned yellow. Red. I screamed. She hit the brakes. But it was too late. The rain was freezing, and all we could do was slide. Mortality became so very real. Time slowed down as I helplessly watched a car heading straight towards me. We collided and objects flew in slow motion. I remember thinking this is it. I’m done for. That moment leading me to question everything I had ever done up until that point. Every choice. Or perhaps, the refusal to make choices. Avoiding life itself.
Have you ever thought about what you wanted to leave behind before death? What will you be remembered for? What kind of impact you will have made in the world? There is no guarantee for tomorrow, and if you have ever faced your own mortality, such as by a close call or losing someone you know, you will know that death is coming and there is no telling when. It could be tomorrow. It could be today.
Before that day, I hadn’t cared all that much about life. I spent my time doing whatever pleased me. Which really didn’t make me any happier. In all reality I had lost hope. Hope in this world, in myself. Hope for anything better. On the run, from life itself. Looking back at any time I was seemingly stuck, or depressed, it was because I had believed a lie. Everything was hopeless. Life was never going to change. I was frustrated, but more than that, I was so focused on myself and my hurt that I chose to lose hope.
Hope is a choice. It is a conscious choice. It is knowing that there is more than meets the eye. Recognizing that you have value in this world, and you have purpose. That the possibilities are endless. It is choosing to care about more than yourself. Hope is the most powerful thing you can have in the midst of grief or trouble. It is the very realization that you are not stuck. We never are.
The message of hope sounds so clear in this very passage. It does not negate battles or the suffering, but it offers the very thing that gives us endurance:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:3-10
What is your purpose in this life? You have one. What would do in your last moments? Without hope the answer is nothing. Even the last hour of life would be meaningless. But with hope, you could receive grace, save a life, change a heart, leave a message behind. You could make one hour more meaningful than 40 years. All things we say and do in hope have the power to change us, to change lives, to impact the world.
That night, I was one millisecond away from death. The car slammed into us right before my feet. I would have left this world without much of a legacy. Without doing anything meaningful. Without meaningful relationships, without anyone truly knowing me or I knowing them. I wouldn’t have known what love, or hope really means. I was given another chance that day, and every moment forward.