Auguste Bartholdi was discouraged. Ten years of his life. Wasted!
The year was 1856. Barthold had traveled to Egypt and was captivated by the magnificence of the pyramids. The magical Nile. And the mysterious Sphinx. There he met Ferdinand de Lesseps who began a ten-year project of cutting a canal from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. He succeeded. And the Suez Canal began a reality.
Bartholdi was inspired to design a grand lighthouse to adorn the entrance of the canal. His ten years of work, planning and designing did not produce the same results. No one was interested in financing the statue.
A defeated Bartholdi returned to his native France. Shortly thereafter his county announce their plans to offer a special gift to the United States. The artist’s dream was about to become a reality. He offered his design of the statue. Today it stand aloft in New York harbor. We know it as the Statue of Liberty.
Barthold’s story reminds me an earlier time. When a band of men and a few female followers had pinned all their hopes and dreams on a man they called “The Teacher.”
He would restore Israel. Redeem them from bondage. And raise them to new and lofty heights. Yes, He was the Messiah!
But now hopes are dashed. Hearts are discouraged. Dreams are crushed. Lives fall into despair. That was on Friday when the religious rulers turned into murderers. The Chief Priest became a rogue Judge. And a governor failed to govern, but succumbed to political appeasement.
Despair was the mental, emotional and spiritual state of Jesus’ followers on the day He was crucified. They were confused. Crippled. And scattered.
Despair. Such a heavy word. It hangs over us like a thick fog. It envelops our souls. Blurs our vision. Dampens our spirits. Obscures our thinking. Clouds our focus. Darkens our future.
We all face Friday’s of despair. Sooner or later. It may come in the form of a terminal illness. An untimely death. A natural disaster. A financial collapse. A moral failure. A personal rejection. A bitter divorce. Or unrequited love. Whatever the circumstance triggering it, the despair is real. Painful. Crippling.
C. Neil Straight was right when he wrote, “Despair is part of our living.” We wish it were not so. But it is. However, Straight, advised, “The despair that besets us when frustration comes can be of two kinds: a despair that causes us to give up, or a despair that makes us go to the depths and draw from our best resources. One kind is futile, the other is fruitful.”
“Despair comes uninvited, but only remains where it is entertained. If it is nurtured through depressive thoughts and fed with pessimistic attitudes, it remains. But when the soul take flight to greater thoughts, despair flees. Hope, faith and a positive outlook will starve despair.”
Ahh, but the disciples’ despair was short-lived. Sunday resurrected hope from hopelessness. Jesus, the giver of the abundant life, breathed new life in their fainting hearts and breathless souls. The empty tomb dispelled despair. Chased away doubt. Dissipated the fog. Cleared their vision. And renewed their strength.
You see, while their despair was real they did not give in. Like Judas did. They hung on. Sunday dispersed their despairing thoughts and feelings.
I need to remember that no matter how bad my Friday of despair is, no matter my circumstances, or my hurt, Sunday’s coming! There is hope. Jesus is alive! And he holds aloft the lamp of light that can brighten our lives.
In the words of the poet Langston Hughes, “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”
Keep your dreams alive until God paves the way to their fulfillment.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman