An older friend of mine recently lost his job. He settled quickly into a dark and bitter despair.
I said, “That’s okay. I have enough hope for both of us. Let’s walk together.”
He didn’t adopt my hope, but he did keep walking and I walked beside him. Eventually, his situation changed. He found, not only a job, but a new life and the satisfactions that came with it.
I’ll admit, that the journey was exhausting. After all, it’s much easier to walk with someone on the mountain tops than in the depths of the valley. But there’s something sacred, something of compassion in walking a valley with a weary and despairing traveler.
I see this in the biblical story of Ruth and Naomi. Naomi was full of despair. She believed God was against her. So intense was her darkness that she tried to push away the very people who could help her.
Ruth wouldn’t allow it. In effect, she said; “not only will not I abandon you today, but I will never abandon you.” She said, “listen, I know you think your hopelessness will rob me of my own hope, but it won’t. My hope will carry us. Walk with me and I will walk with you.”
We know the end of the story. Both Ruth and Naomi found new lives rich with God’s blessings.
What we don’t know are the day-to-day details of the journey. Was Naomi a complainer? I suppose she probably was. She called herself bitter. Did she act bitter?
Was it easy for Ruth to stay with her? Where there are times when Ruth simply wanted some fresh air, a more joyful companion? Did she ever want to give up? I imagine she did.
Yet I also imagine that the journey, hard is it must have been, was sacred, full of compassion, mercy and love. Are these not the things the Christ desires of us?
I love the ending of the story. It all works out. But let’s not focus on that alone. Let’s remember the journey, too. And perhaps, this memory will encourage us in the dark places we walk with people who are suffering despair.
Have you done this? What’s your story?