Florence Chadwick was an American swimmer who was the first woman to swim the English channel both ways.
In 1952 Chadwick decided to swim the 26 miles from Catalina Island to the California coastline. The day she stepped in the waters of the Pacific Ocean the weather was foggy and chilly. She was flanked by small boats, but could hardly see them.
Chadwick swam for fifteen hours. But finally, physically and emotionally exhausted, she stopped swimming and was pulled out. It wasn’t until Florence was on the boat that she discovered the shore was less than half a mile away.
At a news conference the next day she said, “All I could see was the fog.…I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”
Two months later Florence Chadwick swam that same channel. Fog once again obscured her view. But this time she swam with her faith intact–somewhere behind the fog was land. She didn’t quit! And beat the men’s record by over two hours!
The fog obscured her vision. Clouded her judgment. And caused her to lose heart and hope. Hope is a powerful motivator. Likewise hopelessness leads to discouragement. Despair. Defeat.
The Bible, in Luke 24, speaks of Cleopas and an unnamed friend who had lost hope on the day Jesus died. Their minds were in a fog as they walked along the dusty road to the little village of Emmaus. In fact, their vision was so clouded that they didn’t even recognize Jesus when he walked up beside them.
With sad faces and disheartened spirits they were discussing Jesus’ death. You wonder what they were saying. Were they blaming Judas? Accusing Peter? Disparaging the Disciples? Condemning the Jewish leaders? Belittling Pilate? Incriminating the Roman soldiers?
At that moment, Jesus interrupts and asks, “What are you talking about?”
Their response is classic. “Where have you been? Are you new in town? Haven’t you heard what happened to Jesus?”
Then they began to recite what had occurred. How that “The chief priests and our rulers handed (Jesus) over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him.” Then they added, “but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.”
Did you get it? That empty feeling. The agonizing admission. The utter disappointment. “We had hoped….”
On Friday their dreams were dashed. Their expectations extinguished. Their hope was buried. Literally. Of course, their hope was misguided because they were looking for a political savior to redeem Israel.
Suddenly the fog is lifted. Their eyes are opened. And to their chagrin “the stranger” is Jesus! Friday’s hopelessness has now been transformed into Sunday’s hope. Again. But this time it’s a better hope. A clearer hope. A spiritual hope.
Jesus imparts to them the meaning of the Scriptures. Their spiritual eyes are opened. Their minds are enlightened. Their hearts burn passionately. Glazed over eyes are now bright. Sadness has turned to gladness. And their faltering, dragging steps to Emmaus now turn to a hurried return to Jerusalem. With good news! He is risen! Hope is alive!
I don’t know what you’re facing on this Friday of your life. Bad news from your doctor? A pink slip from your boss? Divorce papers from your spouse? An opportunity that has turned sour? A debilitating disease? An untimely death? And like the two men you might be sighing, “We had hoped…” And now it’s all for naught.
Look up! Through the fog of your despair stands Jesus! He has GOOD NEWS! He will turn your sorrow into joy. Your emotional emptiness into spiritual fulfillment. Your weakness into strength. Your discouragement into decisiveness. Your clouded sight into a crystal-clear vision. Your faltering steps into a lively walk. Your pain into a burning passion!
He is alive! He is your hope!
It may be Friday. But Sunday’s coming!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman