“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work, you don’t give up.” (Anne Lamott)
Thank you to Providence Firestorm for this most timely reminder posted on her blog. It was just what I needed to read today.
Don’t Give Up
The Anne Lamott quote also made me think of Galatians 6:9: “..Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
Although I’m sure a theologian could explain the “correct” meaning of this passage, it has always had a double meaning to me. In one instance, the “not be weary in well doing” portion reminds me to always keep on trying to do my best in everything I do no matter how hard things get or how discouraging things may seem – sort of the “keep on keeping on, don’t get tired of doing what’s right, don’t let the circumstances get you down” type of thing. It’s sort of like a pep talk to my heart. “You can do it; sure you can!!”
On the other hand, the “not be weary in well doing (or doing well)” portion also reminds me to seek out and continue benevolence (acts of kindness or charity) and to not tire in these activities. I never should get tired of or stop treating others as I would want to be treated. I never should stop doing random acts of kindness no matter what people around me do or how they act. I am the one responsible for my actions; I am the only one who will stand before God to account for what I did or did not do when I had the opportunity to do it.
The first one is a determination in my heart to do the right thing and to keep on doing the right thing. It starts from inside of me. It encourages me to keep on doing a good job at whatever is in front of me. The second one is a reminder for genuine and ongoing outward acts of kindnesses toward others. It’s an unselfish action and act of my hands (or words I may say, etc.). It’s not done for the purposes of show or accolades. As a matter of fact, these acts may never be acknowledged or noticed. Sometimes it’s better that way. God notices…and that’s the only one who really matters in the end.
This verse also reminds me that change or results may not be not immediate – “in due season.” “Due season” – however long it takes. Sometimes we don’t see immediate results or results in the lifetime. We may not notice results at all until we can look backwards from down the road or from an eternal perspective. It takes time one small step at a time, one individual thing at at time – just as walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death following the loss of a loved one takes time; just as planting an acorn seed and waiting for it to grow into a tree that will give shade takes time. I didn’t know I could survive the death of a child; I just had to keep on concentrating on one moment at a time.
My dad was both a school teacher and a preacher (a Baptist preacher in an area 98% Mormon!) in the small town where I grew up. Sometimes it seemed like his teaching and preaching didn’t make a lot of difference. But following his death and at his memorial service, I was amazed and comforted by the stories of how Dad positively affected lives in the school and in the community.
We don’t know what a difference we can make in someone’s day…or in a life. We may never know in this lifetime…thus, the admonition to “not be weary in well doing” and reminder that we will reap “in due season”…and the encouragement to hope and to “just show up and try to do the right thing, [and] the dawn will come.”
An Unexpected and Encouraging Reference
When I looked up the correct wording of Galatians 6:9 on a Bible website (see above), the first commentary note on that verse led me to 1 Corinthians 15:58: “…your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Although this, too, is encouraging to know (and certainly a good reminder of why it’s good to “not be weary in well doing”), I discovered an unexpected commentary and reference on this verse concerning hope following death:
…Such is the prospect which is before the Christian. He shall indeed die like other people. But his death is a sleep – a calm, gentle, undisturbed sleep, in the expectation of being again awaked to a brighter Day…He has the assurance that his Saviour rose, and that his people shall therefore also rise….He has painful proof that his body is corruptible, but it will be incorruptible; that it is now vile, but it will be glorious; that it is weak, frail, feeble, but it will yet be strong, and no more subject to disease or decay…And he will be brought under the power of death. but death shall be robbed of its honors, and despoiled of its triumph. Its sting from the saint is taken away…The grave is not to him the gloomy abode, the permanent resting-place of his body; it is a place of rest for a little time; grateful like the bed of down to a wearied frame, where he may lie down and repose after the fatigues of the day, and gently wait for the morning.
He has nothing to fear in death; nothing to fear in the dying pang, the gloom, the chill, the sweat, the paleness, the fixedness of death; nothing to fear in the chilliness, the darkness, the silence, the corruption of the grave. All this is in the way to immortality, and is closely and indissolubly connected with immortality…And in view of all this, we should be patient, faithful, laborious, self-denying; we should engage with zeal in the work of the Lord; we should calmly wait till our change come…
(http://bible.cc/1_corinthians/15-58.htm, Barnes Notes on the Bible)
I don’t know what I would do without the hope of seeing Jason again. I look forward to the day when I will see Jason, my mom and dad, my grandparents, and others I dearly love. I know that all of them are watching and cheering me on, encouraging me to “not be weary in well doing”…and I’m gonna keep on trying!
© 2012 Rebecca R. Carney