As originally published in the August 22 edition of The Adventurer.
“Now I have nothing to hang on to but Jesus.”
I remember the words and the moment. We were in St. Vincent’s hospital, one of the old, non-updated rooms. Like a broom closet, really – no decoration or ornamentation. My friend lay quietly in the quiet room. A thin hospital gown in place of his usual attire, a diagnosis of an aggressive form of cancer, his realization and realistic understanding of the likelihood of his swiftly altered future. He was young, my age, and to all outward appearances perfectly healthy. “Now I have nothing to hang on to but Jesus.”
I often think about expectations. We all have them; maybe they’re unavoidable, not inherently bad. But it’s also true that we can do a great deal of damage to ourselves and one another with them – unrealistic expectations projected on one another, projected on life, the way we feel things “should be.” Expectations can be unrealized, future disappointments, unnecessarily setting us up to feel betrayed.
In the moment I find in myself mixed emotionally. I think of the poignant words from the road to Emmaus: “But we had hoped….” Or at the tomb of Lazarus: “If you had been here….” I had hoped to be beyond the Covid impact and moved on to a different narrative – come, Lord Jesus! I expected things to be different now.
The words my friend spoke that day were words of hope rather than resignation, immeasurably peaceful, representing life pruned away of unrealistic expectations and planted firmly in the reasonable and holy hope given us in Jesus. Planted in the expectation of God with us, God victorious, in the knowledge that nothing will separate us from Jesus.
By hanging on the cross, Jesus hangs on to us. When our expectations are stripped away, we see Jesus, maybe for the first time, or most clearly, but there all along.
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” – John 6:68