This month’s Vestry devotion is submitted by our Junior Warden, Nora Earnest.
This past summer, I had the great opportunity to travel in Europe. While the trip focused on locations within the British Isles, our final day was spent at the Normandy landing sites of D-Day, in France. While there, the stories I heard of extreme courage and brutal combat during those fierce days in June, 1944, were difficult and moving. But what struck me the most was the persistent hope that permeated the minds of the soldiers, the military leaders, and the rest of the occupied and free world. A literal world of people supported the soldiers, through praying for them, working to sabotage the enemy, or simply cheering for them from the sidelines.
Prior to the start of the D-Day operation, General Dwight Eisenhower even sent a letter to the soldiers preparing for this difficult mission. General Eisenhower said, in part, “You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you… Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well-trained, well-equipped, and battled hardened. He will fight savagely… I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle… Good luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”
The soldiers knew their mission was a difficult one. The odds were against them. Yet, their stories of perseverance are legendary. Of course, they were well-trained and had a job to do. But I believe that the hope of the world played a part in their success as well. People across continents prayed for and believed in those soldiers. It’s easier to believe in yourself when throngs of people, most of whom you don’t even know, believe in you.
I believe in the power of hope. For me personally, this summer also marked seven years since I underwent a successful stem cell transplant to cure my relapsed cancer. In the days and weeks leading up to this risky procedure, my husband and I sat through numerous appointments with doctors and discussed the very real likelihood of my untimely demise. It was clear that the chances of a successful outcome were slim. I began to question whether the transplant was worth the risk. I began to lose hope.
However, I too had the hopes and prayers of countless supporters. My husband, family, and friends stabilized my diminishing hope and their encouraging words, prayers, and kind gestures built a foundation of hope that carried me through treatment and recovery. I knew I had an army of support behind me and that made my own hope grow.
I believe God is present in our hope. God lives in that glimmer, no matter how small, that says “I will not give up. I will try again.” I have seen what hope can do. It can transform lives and change the world.
The faith I enjoy today grew out of those dark days of illness. I experienced God through the hope and prayers of others and I know that God was present in the darkness and in the hope-filled light.
It has been 74 years since D-Day. And while our post-World War II world is often complex and unjust, there is much to hope for. Glimmers of hope live in every nation. God is with us as we say, “I will not give up. I will try again.” May God be with us all as we live out our own struggles and our own “great and noble undertakings.”