**“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.”
Hopelessness and its pain are not unique to our generation. “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. (Psalm69:2-3 REB)
The writers of scripture were no strangers to pain, suffering or it’s resulting hopelessness. Their laments were many, but there was also an underlying confidence that God would make a way. Knowing God to be active and working in the world was a source of hope. 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 sends light beams into our deepest darkness. Throughout the ages myriads have discovered life filled with possibilities, after seemingly impossible circumstances. Among them are people like myself . . . who having lived through the darkness, discovered God’s resurrection living.
On Sunday we will begin our march through Holy Week. Once more we travel a path from triumphant through fear, despair and death . . . only to be surprised that after Good Friday’s pain, comes Easter’s joy. Holy Week is more than a symbolic remembrance of the events leading up to the crucifixion. For on the other side of our Good Fridays . . . Easter and resurrection wait.
*Originally published as: “On the Other Side of Good Friday” March 28, 2015
**I heard the story of ”No Name” from a Seminary professor who knew her.
I so appreciate your (and the scripture’s!) full acknowledgement of the very real pain of life along with the hope of God’s Easter renewal of life. May we all pray for all those who feel they have “no name” (I think of the immigrants at our border) and trust that God’s Easter love and hope will somehow reach into the darkness of their lives.
Yes, praying that Easter love and hope can reach into the lives of immigrants everywhere. Praying too, that those who create the conditions will in hearing of God’s Easter hope and love, will open their hearts and politics to compassion.
No Name’s story is so sad. Hoping someone, if not God directly, turned things around for her in the end.