“No Name” is what the woman called herself. She was in a locked ward of a psychiatric unit in a hospital, wearing a straitjacket. She was there because she had tried to harm her father after years of suffering from abuse . . . she was to say, “I am beyond the state of hope. I have no hope.” Once she wrote, “No name, no place, no love, no hope.” (I heard the story of “”No Name” from a professor who had met her.)
Hopelessness and its pain are not unique to our generation. The scriptures reveal the pain of the faithful who have gone before us. “My eyes stream with unceasing tears and refuse all comfort” wrote Jeremiah. (Lamentations 3:49 REB). The Psalmist would say, “I sink in muddy depths where there is no foothold; I have come into deep water and the flood sweeps me away. I am exhausted with crying, my throat is sore. (Psalms 69:2-3 REB)
The writers of scripture were no strangers to pain, suffering or it’s resulting hopelessness. Yet, they were confident of God’s continuing presence in their lives. They recognized a presence that lifted them from their despair. The 27th Psalm speaks to that hope. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? . . God will hide me and shelter me in the day of trouble; . . though my mother and father forsake me, the Lord will take me up. . . . I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living . . . be strong and let your heart take courage.” To those burdened with shame the 103rd Psalm promises, “As far as the east is from the west, so far God removes our transgressions from us.”
We are a resurrection people. Far from hopelessness we are gifted with the knowledge that God is one who brings life out of death, turns despair and hopelessness into avenues of new life, and makes our darkness become as day. Countless people, through the ages have discovered God’s new life surrounding them. Among them are people like myself . . . who having lived through the darkness, discovered God’s resurrection living.
Soon we will celebrate Holy Week where once more we journey from triumphant through fear, despair and death . . . only to be surprised that after Good Friday’s pain, comes Easter’s joy. On the other side of our journey through the Good Friday’s of life . . . Easter and resurrection wait.