A reflection for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost, October 15, 2023 by Mary Lou Edgar
“Hope” is an interesting word. It gets used about as often as “faith”.
It is one of those nebulous, semi-religious words that dares a friend (or relative) to question what you are saying. I know what I’m talking about.
I had faith and hope that our daughter would recover from her stroke. Her chances were not great, and I felt like Mary and Martha waiting for Jesus to come and help Lazarus, but for some reason I truly believed. Hope and faith are words with which I am quite familiar. For many years I worked with abused and neglected children. I prayed so much for each of them; but for some, the resilience necessary to confront such a destructive environment and survive just wasn’t available to them. However, for some, it is available, and we can watch them grow and bloom like the first flowers of Spring.
The words we use mean so much. We don’t always think about it, but when someone says something to you that feels offensive, you must decide. How strong are you? If you have someone who makes jokes about different cultures, do you say anything? Or do you just look uncomfortable. If someone makes a sexual joke or says something inappropriate, do you just stand there? We have all been in those positions and as I talk about my daughter and her ability to survive, I think of the many times people said things about my family that were inconsiderate and incredibly mean.
My children were there. They heard. And they are hurt by the words of strangers. Shortly after Moni joined our family, we lived in a culturally diverse neighborhood. One day an East Indian family was having a party. My neighbor (who loved Moni) said that the Hindis were having a party. I told her that was offensive to me as my daughter is Hindi. She said no she isn’t she is an American. So were most of the people at the party. Dan and I were the only Caucasian people. Amazing!
I was in a grocery store shortly after that and someone stopped, looked at Moni, and said in a very nasty tone, “Where did you get her?” I am usually so polite, but I was ticked. I replied, “On Aisle 13. If you hurry, they may still have some.”
But what does this have to do with faith and hope?
We were so excited when we learned that we were going to have another daughter.
We knew she had disabilities, but we believed we were being led to go in this direction. She was our child long before we met her. We had faith that this was God’s will for us and hoped that her life would be enhanced by living with us. It was a tall order, and it took a long time. There were moments (sometimes hours) when we thought about not moving forward, but we did.
Once we met that plane in New York, we were so happy. There was work ahead, but we felt sure we were ready. We didn’t have nearly as many skills as we needed, but we had hope for our little girl, and we had faith. She has surpassed all our expectations.
Webster defines faith as “belief and trust in and loyalty to God.” It also says, “firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” Hope is defined as “a desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in the future.” It is also defined as “trust.” We had only three sentences of information describing Moni and no medical information. That would be unheard of today. But we were led, and we persevered.
Now, as we look at the wars in our world, particularly in the Holy Land, we are confident that God is there for those people as well. We learned from Moni, now we must all learn from God. “The righteous who trust or put their hope in God will be helped!” —Psalm 28:7
We need to hope. Have faith, persevere, and pray that one day we will have peace. It would be a miracle like Moni.
Photo is of Moni lighting the Advent Wreath nearly a year ago.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Lou Edgar, MSS, is a clinical social worker who founded A Better Chance for Our Children, an adoption and foster care agency that works to find permanent homes for children in the foster care system. Mary Lou was the Executive Director of ABCFOC, but she is now retired. She graduated from Neumann University and Bryn Mawr School of Social Work and Social Research. She and her husband joined SsAM in 2021.