Many years ago an S-4 submarine was rammed by another ship and quickly sank. The entire crew was trapped inside. Other ships rushed to the scene of disaster off the coast of Massachusetts. No one knows exactly what took place down in that sunken submarine but we can be sure that those young men clung bravely to life as the oxygen slowly gave out.
A diver placed his ear against the side of the vessel and listened. He heard a faint tapping. Inside that trapped prison someone was tapping out a message in the dots and dashes of the morse code. The young diver listened intensely as the message was slowly tapped out and great emotion swelled inside him. What was the message? IT WAS THE QUESTION OF THE AGES—“Is there any hope?”
What do you think? Lots of people today are asking that question. Despite the prophets, preachers, and peddlers of simplistic positivism—despite the fact that many wait in childlike trust for brighter days—despite the optimism the Pop Psychology crowd would have us embrace—despite the common belief that living in America is the greatest Nation on God’s green earth—despite the pick yourself up by your own boot straps mentality – there are lots of people who’ve grown suspect of brighter days. They too ask the question of the ages IS THERE ANY HOPE?
For many that question is elusive—but today we desperately need a HOPE THAT GIVES COPE! Alexander Pope once said: “There is no medicine liked hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectations of something better tomorrow.” As believers we often look to the good book for words of hope and encouragement amidst life’s dilemmas and chaos. Noah certainly longed for a sign of hope after the world had been destroyed by flood and he was held up floating with his family and the animal kingdom for months. Finally Noah released a dove through a hatch in the arch.
Genesis 8:11 When the dove returned to Noah in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf!
An olive leaf. Noah would have been happy to have the bird but to have the leaf! This leaf was more than foliage; this was a promise of dry ground—vegetation—a new start. The bird brought more than a piece of a tree; it brought hope. For isn’t that what hope is? Hope is an olive leaf—evidence of dry land after a terrible flood.
Don’t we love the olive leaves of life? “It appears the cancer may be in remission.” “I can help you with those finances.” “We will get through this together.” “Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall—all you have to do is call.” Words like that are hope infusing. And we love the parenthetical dove (messengers) that bring them.
When a father walks his daughter through her first broken heart, he gives her an olive leaf. When a wife of many years consoles the wife of a few months, assuring her that no husband is perfect and storms pass, you know what she is doing? She is giving an olive leaf. When a dear friend put his strong hands on my shoulder a few weeks ago and simply said “You seem very pensive and distracted lately, when you are ready to talk about what’s happening I am here for you.” His words were the olive leaf—and he was the dove (messenger) that delivered it. During this advent season as the days are short and the weather has turned cold let us be present to the reality that despite all the holiday jingles and carols, many feel a lack of hope. One word of kindness, one thoughtful gesture may be an “olive leaf” bringing hope to a hurting heart. During this holy season we are mindful of the ultimate giver of human hope within the ancient prophecy “Those walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness….and He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…” Isaiah 9:2,6. He told me to tell you.