Sleep on This: Dum Spiro Spero (April 20)
Good evening, friend!
How is your soul this night? I trust it’s well in part because we worshipped together yesterday! It blesses me to see your names and greetings popping up in the comment section of our YouTube Channel. Not the same as sitting next to each other in church, of course, but still a sweet point of connection.
We’ve been “loitering” in Romans 5:3-5 for several evenings, a favorite passage of mine. And for this moment in our life together, it deserves to be revisited again and again:
… we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (NRSV)
If you didn’t read my last few posts, I’d urge you to do so here, here, and here. I’ve been writing about how our “alchemist” God can take our sufferings and transform them, step by step, into pure gold: HOPE! There is a recipe. First, our sufferings produce endurance. Then endurance produces character. And finally, character produces HOPE! And who couldn’t use a little more hope right now?
In 2007 our family was on sabbatical in Scotland. After visiting several castles and noticing the family crests and mottoes in each place, we decided to create the Toone family crest with our own Latin motto. We landed on Esse Quam Videri, which means, “To be rather than to appear.” We liked this idea of authenticity and integrity.
Esse Quam Videri was the winner, but here’s the runner-up: Dum Spiro Spero. “While I breathe, I hope.” Ironically, we later discovered that this was the motto of St. Andrews, Scotland, my home away from home. (If I’d known that, it might have tipped the scales the other way!)
Dum Spiro Spero. I do love the power of that idea. As long as I draw breath, there’s still hope. There’s ALWAYS hope. It seems especially apt during a viral event that attacks, literally, our ability to draw breath. Who would have imagined that the mass availability of ventilators would be a subject of headlines? And we’ve certainly heard story after story of lives been taken by pneumonia, the nastiest side effect of Corona.
What we’ve heard less of, however, is the hope-building good news; the miracle stories. The “miraculous” recovery of an 82-year old man named Sid in England; of an 89-year-old man named Jim in Pennsylvania; of a 102-year-old woman named Sophie in Yonkers; of a 107-year-old woman named Havahan in Istanbul! And when I say “miraculous,” I am stealing that adjective from the newspaper headlines of each story.
Dum Spiro Spero. As long as they could take one breath, there was still hope. Of course, hope doesn’t sell as well as catastrophe. But hope is what we need. And not just the “cross-your-fingers-and-make-a-wish” kind of hope that the world has to offer. But the sure, certain, grounded, solid-as-a-rock kind of hope we find in Scripture. The kind of hope that Paul promises, “…does not disappoint us.”
When was the last time you reflected on the idea of “hope?” When was the last time you felt hopeful? Well, this is as good a time as any! This week, every night, I want to plumb with you the depths…the incredible depths…of biblical hope. Dum Spiro Spero! Are you breathing? Then you’ve got hope! More than you may know…and for reasons the world cannot even fathom.
Lord, as I lay me down to sleep this night, would you lower my anxiety level and RAISE my hope level! Remind me of the many reasons I have to trust in your future. May I rest easy knowing that my hope in Christ is not just wishful thinking; it is a rock-solid guarantee! Amen.