A rabbi asked students how to tell when a new day has dawned. One said, “When there is enough light to see the difference between an apple tree and a pear tree.” It was a good answer, sensible to the core.
Another said, “When you can look down the road and tell whether the animal up ahead is a fox or a dog.” Another fine, practical answer.
The rabbi paused, then finally said, “It is a new day when there is enough light that allows you to see the face of another human being, and looking upon that face, you see your brother or sister. Until that happens, it is still night.” His answer was full of broad-eyed hope.
Clear-eyed realism is useful for simple, daily problems. Broad-eyed hope brings perspective and meaning to our larger dilemmas. Psalm 118 connects the two approaches. It begins with clear-eyed realism as the psalmist, confronted by enemies (v. 10), acknowledges, “I am surrounded and pushed hard.” Yet even before God acts, the psalmist embraces a hope larger than his situation, “They surrounded me; in the name of the LORD I cut them off!” God has yet to act, but the psalmist is already living into a hope broad enough to pay those “bees” (v. 12) no mind; they are cut off and of no concern. The writer affirms that through this hope, “the LORD helped me” and “has become my salvation” (vv. 13, 14).
All of us who stand on this side of Easter can say the same.
What have you experienced that’s been like the “bees” in the psalm, leading you to ask God for strength and hope?
God, help us recognize the hope you hold out for us to receive. Teach us to focus on the ways you are always at work within and around us so that we might truly know you. Amen.