One of the things we know for sure is that no one gets a free pass when it comes to hard things. Are you a parent? Then you know what it is to hold your breath as you hold a sick child in your arms, and to hurt when they are hurting. Stress from your workplace? You know what it’s like to drag yourself day after day into an environment that feels toxic and complicated. Injured, ill, or experiencing major life upheaval? Hoofta. All the feels here. In a relationship of any kind? Say no more.

We don’t always have a choice in what comes our way, but what we do have are tools to deal with it. And given the size of the self-help sections in every bookstore, and the number of people who offer unsolicited advice, there are more tools for dealing with life than there are tools in a hardware store, so choose wisely, dear ones.[1]

Every single oncology team and cancer patient has shared this piece of wisdom with me in my journey: attitude matters. Managing to stay positive, and let’s face it, sane, in times of challenge can literally mean the difference between life and death. When we are under stress, big or small, finding ways to stay calm and hopeful helps us make better decisions, maintain healthy relationships and experience more peace both in the short-term and the long haul.

Thankfully, we don’t have far to look in order to find a lifeline in the midst of our storms. The gospel message itself offers so much to cling to: gratitude, mercy, forgiveness, patience, perseverance, justice, acceptance, community, blessings, and miracles, and that’s just a start to the good stuff found in scripture. Think about it: we literally call it Good News! And not because it promises that we will be delivered from every hard thing but that we will have God’s good company every step of the way.

Rev. Dr. Edgell Pyles preached at Snowmass Chapel last weekend and he referred to a quote by the famous philosopher Emmanuel Kant:

“Heaven has given human beings three things to balance the odds of life:

hope, sleep, and laughter.”

As to sleep and laughter, you’ve got this. The bottom line is just do it. Both. Often. SO good for us.

But hope? Well, hope might need to be a little more intentional, excavated a bit from within. Sure, you can hold hope when you see someone else overcoming their struggle. You can say, ‘well this happened before so I can hope it will happen again.’ But that is hoping in things that we surely already have – things that are a known entity, concrete, certain, or at least fairly predictable; seen. Hoping in things unseen, now that’s the good stuff. You might even say it’s “gospel truth.” Good News.

Lately I’ve been reminding myself of the miraculous healings in the scriptures. Blind men, lepers, the woman who bled for 12 years, the adulterous woman (healed of her sin and more importantly the shame heaped on her), the Centurion’s son, a weeping mother whose daughter had died, Lazarus walking out of a dark tomb still wearing the cloth strips they buried him in. Scripture is filled with miracles and healings back then, so why not today? Why not us? I have hope because I believe it’s still possible.

I have hope that justice, mercy, forgiveness, acceptance, repentance, and all the good and powerful things Jesus asks of us, are not only possible but making a difference in the world today.

I have hope that we are made to find the fullness of joy in this life[2] even as we wait for the life to come.

I have hope that when tragedy strikes we are cared for and loved because God sent Jesus into the world to show us how to live, and because God’s PEOPLE showed up.

I have hope that even when God’s people are horrid and treat people in vile ways justice will be done and goodness will prevail. I have hope, I have hope, I have hope.

Hope, sleep and laughter. Like manna, they are gifts from heaven above.

And what about you? What would you add to the list that equips you to balance the unbelievable odds of this one wild and precious life.[3]

[1] I’m actually a big fan of unsolicited advice because it gives me such a great peek into what’s on people’s minds and hearts, and besides knowledge is power. I’m just not sure I need vitamin suppositories, parasite treatment, 10 pounds of carrots a day (organic, peeled), nor do I see the health benefits of drinking my own urine. Like ever. Ick. But please, you be you. <3
[3] “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Matthew 9:11
[4] Mary Oliver coined the phrase “this one wild and precious life” in her poem, The Summer Day, and I think she deserves credit.