By Sarah Christmyer
Photo by TheDigitalArtist via Pixabay.
It’s been almost 20 years, and “9/11” still socks me in the gut when I see it on the calendar. Right away I’m back in time, driving frantically home from New Jersey where I had driven that morning, hoping my children were OK at school in Pennsylvania, praying my husband would get home from New York, imagining the very worst. The not-knowing was almost unbearable. When would they strike next? Where? Was this the end of life as we knew it?
Time (and relative peace) has papered over the fear, but the memory lurks. It’s not hard to conjure up that feeling of immanent catastrophe. I remember it as I read about Rahab in Joshua chapter 2. She lived in a city that was melting in fear of the children of Israel and their God, who had given them victory over much larger enemies and promised to give them the land Rahab lived in. She could have given in to fear, or she could have scoffed at the power of God. Instead, she decided to join him.
Maybe you know the story: Rahab hid Joshua’s spies on her roof, then asked them to save her life in return. They had her hang a red cord out the window as a sign to the army to spare her. It can’t be coincidence that the Hebrew word for “cord” is tikvah: it’s the same as the word for “hope.” A cord is made of several strands twisted together for strength. Just like her hope was made of three things Rahab knew and depended upon: she knew who God was: “God in heaven above and on earth beneath,” greater than all other gods. She knew what he’d done in the past to save his people, bringing them safely across the Red Sea and drowning the Egyptians. And she knew of God’s promise for the future, to give his people the Promised Land. Three things: God’s character, God’s past actions, and God’s promises. Three things that gave Rahab a basis for hope.
When storms threaten your life, are you more like the Canaanites who shrank in fear, or do you, like Rahab, take stock of what you know about God? Do you know Who he is? Are you sure of his character? Do you know what he says about himself, what he’s done in the past that confirms it? Not just for Israel (though it’s helpful to know that!) but for people you know … for yourself? And do you know what he promises his children?
Take time to find out, if you don’t. Weave those things into a strong cord of hope to hang onto, when times get tough. Meditate on Romans 8:31-39, if you’re not sure:
“If God is for us, who is against us? … Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
May God give you strength through the storm!
About the author:
Sarah Christmyer is co-developer and founding editor of The Great Adventure Catholic Bible study program. The author of numerous Bible studies and several guided journals for Bible reading, she speaks at conferences and retreats on topics related to Scripture and the Catholic faith. She teaches at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia. Follow her blog at www.ComeIntotheWord.com.
I love your reflection, Sarah, thank you! We’ve done some of your Bible studies here at Our Lady of the Valley Catholic military Community At Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville Alabama, and your contributions and today’s words of wisdom for sure have given me hope… God’s blessings as you continue in your Ministries, Chris
Thank you, Chris! And blessings on you and on the military community there. I so appreciate your service (including those of you who stay at home). Grace and peace, Sarah.
Beautiful and comforting words on this day of remembrance, Sarah. Thank you!
Thank you, Stephanie. Have a blessed day!
Sarah – this is so beautiful – and so timely – both for today 9-11 and for my class of sophomores as we are beginning to read Joshua. I am constantly asking them to connect events and people from Scripture to modern life – and I will be reading this in class – Rahab and hope – who doesn’t need a cord of hope to grasp? I certainly do – and there is no doubt that teenagers need a cord of hope – and you have given it to them. Thank you for your words!
What perfect timing! How’s that for how God works? I love knowing that those kids are really reading Scripture for all it’s worth 🙂 Thank you for all you do, Alyssa!