Keep putting one foot in front of another

Published 8:33 pm Monday, June 15, 2020

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By Scott Baker

On Sunday during our church service we heard these words from St. Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, “…suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5:3b-5).”

Perhaps it was just happenstance. Perhaps it was just how the liturgical calendar and current events aligned. Perhaps it was just coincidence (A friend of my once quipped, “coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.”). Regardless, the words seemed fortuitous indeed.

I think we needed to hear those words as the world continues to grapple with COVID-19, an economic collapse the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades, and the global black lives matter protests; I think it is safe to say that we know a little bit about suffering. I pray that we gain more than a better character on the other side. I pray that we not only gain a better character, but [also] a better world and a better society for the diverse and sundry people who call America their home.

As I think about suffering, endurance and hope, I am reminded of the Israelites who trekked 40 years through the wilderness. Often, I have wondered what sustained them through all those long and weary miles they traveled. Perhaps it is the same thing that sustains us and that Paul alludes to in his letter to the church in Rome. The Israelites hoped for the Promise Land. They hoped for that place flowing with milk and honey. Perhaps we dare to hope for a better country where COVID-19 is a distant memory, economic stability and equality for all is a reality and not a dream, and all people are treated with respect and dignity regardless of their color, creed, or origin.

It is that hope that can sustain us through these difficult days. It is that hope that can give us strength to meet the days ahead. It is that hope that strengthens our resolve to work toward a better day and a brighter tomorrow.

In the meantime, we keep trekking through our current wilderness. We keep putting one foot in front of another. Perhaps, when we get to the end of our journey, we will find that, not only is our character better, but also we can cross the threshold into a Land of Promise where we truly can live into those immortal words, “all are created equal, and have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

THE REV. SCOTT BAKER is the rector at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Franklin. Contact him at 562-4542.