Psalm 119:49 - Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.
Hope is a precious commodity. If we have hope that better days are coming, or that our lives and actions will have purpose and meaning we can endure. Remove that hope and life seems pointless. We are unwilling and sometimes unable to continue on. In the book of Proverbs (13:12) it is written, “Hope deferred makes a heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is like a tree of life.”
I have known despair and I have known hope. I have to confess, as a caregiver for someone at the end of their life hope can be in short supply. I don’t even know what to hope for. Dad continues to lose ground to dementia. He can no longer remember a simple instruction to hand an envelope to me. He forgets by the time he walks over to the desk. He’s taken to swearing like a sailor which is not something that was ever part of his make up. Yes, he’d get angry. But he expressed it in other ways. So what do we hope for? A peaceful end that comes sooner rather than later? I suppose that would be best, but what a loss that will be for each of us. For Mom, who does not want things to change even though change is swirling all around her. For Mike who is losing his parents bit by bit, day by day. For me who has been so blessed by good in-laws for thirty years. They are such a big part of our lives and have done so much for us.
But hope is not about our present circumstances. Hope is about a future waiting for us that has something worth hoping for. I am trying to remind myself of that. Years ago, God sent someone to give me a word of hope. An unknown young woman who approached me saying that the Lord had revealed to her I was an artist who had put aside painting, but that He had a plan for creating art through me. That was almost ten years ago, and not much has happened in that area of my life. At the time she spoke that, I was caring for my mother who was suffering from Alzheimer’s. Before I had much time to recover from that journey we entered into helping out Mike’s parents. First, driving across the state weekly, and then moving them closer to be able to help with their daily care. We are truly blessed to be able to do this. More than I can say. But when I look to the future, when they are no longer with us…hope is not my first thought. Nor is art.
I wonder - what does hope look like in this part of my life, at this part of our journey?
Donna Kemper put aside her art career to care for a mother she hadn't seen in over a decade. For seven years she followed her mother's journey into dementia, caring for her and putting forgiveness into action.