"Hope of the world, Thou Christ of great compassion, speak to our fearful hearts by conflict rent. Save us Thy people, from consuming passion, who by our own false hopes and aims are spent.
"Hope of the world, God's gift from highest heaven, bringing to hungry souls the bread of life, still let Thy Spirit unto us be given, to heal earth's wounds and end our bitter strife.
"Hope of the world afoot on dusty highways, showing to wandering souls the path of light,
walk beside us lest the tempting byways, lure us away from Thee to endless night."
"Hope, healing, rehabilitation" reads the sign in my physical therapist's office. This is where I go to get help with both wrists that I broke roller skating at my father's 80th birthday party this summer. It struck me while being treated by my physical therapist that healing is something we often do away from the regular pursuits of life.
As a licensed professional counselor, I understand the efficiency and productivity in this model of what's called "attractional" healthcare in which a person identifies some sickness or discomfort, reaches out for help, and seeks out a healthcare provider for treatment. There is, however, some dysfunction in this model. For instance, it seems strange to set up an office and schedule 50-minute appointments with clients, many of whom are grieving (as though grief can be told when to show up and when to stay at bay) - people who may struggle to even get out of bed.
So, to me this hymn speaks a special kind of refreshing truth. It acknowledges that it is "by our own false hopes and aims" we are spent, as if recognizing that it is the regular pursuits of our daily lives that necessitate the time we spend in recovery. This makes me wonder: what if physical, emotional, and spiritual health wasn't something we left our daily lives to pursue? Instead, what if it was a regular part of our office meetings and community gatherings and political discourse? What if we lived in a way that didn't require so much recovery?
Of course, those are my inner ponderings. Yet, the beauty of this hymn -- and the Jesus to whom it points -- emerges quietly at this intersection of my thoughts and questions about how we ought to live. It says, "hope of the world, afoot on dusty highways." Jesus does not set up an office and wait for us to come to Him! He is right here with us, afoot in the dusty mess that we're busy whipping up in our daily pursuits! He has no requirement that we acknowledge our own malady before He begins treatment. He's been reaching out to us through the prayers of individuals, the majesty of sunsets and moonrises, and the mercy He bestows upon the just and the unjust -- long before we're even aware we are sick. The hope for our world is not in healthier pursuits. The hope for our world is a Person, Jesus, already afoot in our lives and inviting us to come to Him.
THE PRAYER: Thank You Jesus for the love You display by coming to us where we are. You alone truly bring hope to our world, and we love You for it! In Your Name we pray. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by AmyRuth Bartlett. It is based on the hymn, "Hope of the World," which is found on page 690 in the Lutheran Service Book.
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