Listen to this week’s Devotional here.
Author: Karen Hoover
For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what they have already seen? Romans 8:24
When I opened my 2023 “star word” envelope last month, I found the word PRESENT. Being someone who often feels distracted by the push and pull of each day, I thought that PRESENT was a pretty good word for me, essentially a synonym for focus, and one I could work with throughout the year.
My next response was to think of my star word in terms of interpersonal relationships and to reflect on long-ago learned tools for deepening those interactions — active listening skills, body language cues, mirroring language, and other techniques to facilitate being PRESENT in my interactions and relationships. I also recalled a recent essay that reminded readers that relationships take time — to initiate, to develop, to deepen, to maintain and to refresh. I resolved to give more time to being PRESENT.
So far, so good, I thought. Throughout this year I will endeavor to keep the word PRESENT in the forefront of my consciousness and to reflect on the possible impact on my interpersonal relationships of doing so.
Then, in this past week, another more surprising dimension of my star word emerged for my reflection. I am a news hound because I feel it is a responsibility of citizenship to stay informed and educated about the issues of the day. But it was in the daily challenge of reading and listening to the litany of mostly horrifying events that I began to consider the word PRESENT in a new frame. How does one stay PRESENT to mass deaths in an earthquake? Or to another brutal, senseless death of a Black man, Tyre Nichols, at the hands of shockingly violent police officers? Or to the continued senseless destruction of Ukraine by an unrestrained madman? To innumerable acts of inhumanity?
We want so desperately to turn away, to return to our lives untroubled, to believe that someone else will respond. But the God of Love is PRESENT in our lives, calling us to respond in love, to be PRESENT and engaged with one another in ways small and large, without ceasing. And when, in our despair and sorrow, we ask “how?”, because nothing ever seems to change, we are reminded that hope is what sustains and moves us.
So maybe my true “star word” challenge this year is to remain PRESENT to HOPE.
A Prayer: God of Love and Hope, each new day is our opportunity to be PRESENT—and we give you thanks.