So on Sunday I was laying down, impatiently waiting for my back to heal, and I popped in the 3rd Lord of the Rings movie. I'd recently seen the 2nd one when our symphony did a live performance of the music with the movie. I was preparing to share with our church planting team about hope that evening, so I was watching the movie with thoughts of hope in mind.
I got to the part of the movie where Sam and Frodo are headed through the wilderness, finally abandoned by Gollum, and they are worn and ragged. The journey has been long and difficult beyond belief. They keep putting one foot in front of the other, but they struggle to do even that. At one point, Frodo sort of collapses. Sam stands there and looks at him, concerned, as always. And then he starts to talk to Frodo, "Do you remember the Shire, Frodo?" And he paints a picture of all the things that they left behind, all the things that they remember, all the things that they think are worth fighting for.
I thought of that in the context of the eternal story that we are living in the midst of. We often think of hope as something to reach for that has no basis in reality, that has never happened before, that we can only just picture the possibility of. But I think that we also have memory of something that's good and right and perfect that we still long for. And the fact that it existed before actually can instill hope in us that we can find that again.
One of the most powerful aspects of the story of God is that there is hope for healing and restoration and re-creation. We have a picture of what that was like - oh so briefly - in the first chapter of Genesis. Where all relationships were right and good, where people and God walked together, and where work was not the toil it is today.
When I'm physically suffering, attempting to counsel suicidal clients to get help, watching those around me physically or emotionally hurting, it's so easy to see just those things. It's easy to see the problems and to be overwhelmed by them. But the memory of the garden gives me hope that, through the power of Jesus and the work of the Spirit, re-creation is possible. And not only is it possible, it will happen. Someday.