Hope in the Midst of Tragedy
“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
A few nights ago, I saw a story of hope in a most unlikely place. I was watching a video clip of the season opener between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Gordon Hayward, one of the new stars of the Celtics, leaped high to catch an alley-oop pass. However, he landed hard upon one foot, completely fracturing his ankle. It was a gruesome injury, and he was writhing on the floor in pain.
As he was receiving medical attention, the Celtics teammates, visibly shaken, huddled together in prayer. Even the members of the Cavaliers prayed, too. A hush came over the sports arena. But over the hush, I could hear a murmur from the crowd. I came to the realization that they were praying, too. It occurred to me that at that moment, in that stadium, there were probably more people praying than in a typical megachurch on Sunday morning.
I learned that we become united when we see one person, or many people, suffering. And in that unity, we seek God, and we find hope.
In referring to the above Bible passage, the people of Israel were in exile in Babylon for 70 long years. They became slaves to the Babylonians and certainly suffered. Literally, an entire generation of Israel passed away in Babylon. In the midst of their sufferings, Jeremiah prophesied that God hadn’t given up on Israel. God still had a plan for them, and his plan was to give them hope.
This year has had more than its fair share of tragedy. We’ve had over a million people affected by a relentless hurricane season. Mexico has had earthquake after earthquake. And then there were the unexplained mass shootings in Las Vegas followed by the California wild fires. What are we to do? We can huddle together and pray, as well as mourn. We can also act, being compassionate to our neighbors and those in need. Finally, we might come to realize that God has a plan ‒ a plan that gives us hope and a future.
Suthee Thumasathit is a Thailand native who grew up in Iowa and is now practices internal medicine for Texas Health Resources. He is a leader in NorthPark's Thai Fellowship and current NorthPark Presbyterian ruling elder.