Sunday, November 9, 2014

Weekend Worship—The Scent of Hope

by Sarah Van Diest

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

On the dark side of understanding lies the deepest black, but also the sweetest scent.

Before we know that all will be well and we hide, curled up under the covers waiting for the confirmation of the news we dread, there is darkness. It can be deep. It can be suffocating. The feeling of certain doom can overwhelm our rational minds and drown us in the possibilities of things we fear.

But there is something else, something wonderful, in that blackness that we have to learn to observe. It’s always been there, but we’ve missed it. It resides perpetually, but our panicked hearts don’t slow down and recognize it.

It’s hope. Faith. Belief. More real than our present circumstances. Our upside-down perspective on this life leads us to errantly put our hope, faith and belief in our circumstances, the very cause of our descent into darkness.

As I write this, there is a shooter loose in a nearby high school. The only news that has reached the airways is that shots were fired. Hundreds of police and emergency workers have arrived, but parents and loved ones have no idea if this shooter has killed or injured someone they care about. As parents run up to the barricades, police gently but firmly push them back. The parents are standing in the dark side of understanding. They are waiting in what feels like a vacuum of hope.

But reality is different. The truth of the matter is beyond what most of us can comprehend. Our temporary lives are all that we understand. Grasping a reality that glides above this temporal existence is too ethereal for us. We hold on, with white knuckled hands, to the only thing we know: life. And the threat that it could be taken from us is more than we can endure. Suffocation sets in. Hope is sucked out. Even its scent is lost in those darkest of moments.

It takes belief to smell the perfume of hope at times like these. It takes faith to inhale that fragrance. The eyes can’t see it; detect it; won’t prove its existence. Hope is aromatic. It is a rose grown in the deepest of wells. It thrives in the absence of exposing, disclosing, unmasking light. It has to be something unseen but believed in. It must be. If there is proof, then it isn’t faith. If there is hard evidence, then it isn’t belief. It can only be hinted at on the cold breeze that ekes through the crevices of the walls of a cave. It is a scent, once detected, which strengthens and intensifies, but one moment reverting to trusting in what the eyes see and the scent disperses.

But oh, it is the sweetest scent. It comes from a place beyond us. Hope is the aroma of Christ and it comes from where He dwells. The reality we live in today produces no such fragrance.

There is an irony that Hebrews brings to light in this verse: “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” Heb. 11:3. Catch the irony? Our faith, so to speak, is most often placed in this visible world. This realm is something we can prove by the evidence our eyes observe. But where did this observable world come from? Where did that which we can see originate? That’s the irony. It came from the invisible…from the word of God. We put our faith most often in something that came from “nothing” instead of in Him who created it.

This world as we experience it, our temporal existence, is a vapor. Hevel in Hebrew. Smoke.

The thing that is more real, if such a thing can be said, is that which we cannot see: the word of God…the aroma of Christ. Hope. Nothing this world has to offer has more permanence than the invisible.

“And He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him, and find him, though He is not far from each one of us.” Acts 17: 26, 27.

Satan has done a masterful job at turning reality on its head. Our dependence on the physical realm is evidence. When circumstances threaten our lives and the lives of those we love, even to small degrees, we scurry all too quickly into the dark places where we hide and wait. Fear sets in. Hope vanishes.

I do this more often than I want to confess. Dark seems to be my go-to place. What I want to begin doing when I find myself in those dark places is to teach myself to close my eyes and inhale deeply…to search, with a heart full of faith, for the scent of hope; to grope for Him in the dark places. If I do that, when I do that, I detect the aroma of Christ, awakening the other senses to the reality of the truth surrounding me. I start to see with the eyes of faith the world that is more real than what I think I know.

If I lean not on my own understanding, but trust, believe…then I begin to understand what it means for the things of this earth to grow strangely dim. And my anxiety, fear, and doubt melt as the perfume of hope overtakes the scientific requirements of my mind.

This isn’t a recipe for all things to work together as I want them to. Hardly. I think this is more in line with becoming sanctified. As I turn away from the lies that keep me in the darkness, I walk closer to the truth, to my Father. As I choose hope, the covering cloak of fear falls off. As I understand more of who my Father is and what His heart is, I believe and rest overtakes anxiety.


Even the darkest night and the thickest and most stale, stagnant air can be penetrated by the scent of hope.

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The darkest night, the thickest, most stagnant air can be penetrated by the scent of hope - Sarah Van Diest (Click to Tweet)

Sarah has worked in Christian publishing since 2005 as both and editor and an agent. 

Currently, she works with her husband, David, in their agency, the Van Diest Literary Agency. Writing is a growing passion for her as she hopes to bring hope to hurting hearts.

8 comments:

  1. Sarah, Thank you for this awesome post. It blesses, inspires, and encourages me.

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    1. So thankful, Henry. Take a deep breath today.
      Blessings,
      Sarah

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  2. Sarah, I needed to read your amazing post this morning. Thank you.

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    1. He is faithful, yes? Always giving us what we need when we need it.
      Blessings, Marjorie.
      Sarah

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  3. You said that beautifully. I've searched for hope a lot this year,

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    1. Hi Jennifer,
      Me too. It's part of our journey, isn't it? It's part of what keeps us seeking our Father's face.
      Blessings,
      Sarah

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  4. Absolutely beautiful.

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    1. I'm so surprised I didn't respond to this comment earlier. I must have missed it. Thank you for these two words. They are powerful and encouraging! I am blessed by them... even 6 months later!
      Thank you!
      Sarah

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