Persistent Hope: Entering into Suffering

By Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon

If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:6-7)

This week, I had the privilege of hosting a podcast with Oxfam America about the current civil war in Yemen. The effects of the conflict are severe, but Yemen does not often reach the front page of the news. The United Nations identified realities in Yemen as the “greatest humanitarian crisis of our day.” With more than two million displaced persons, more than 80 percent of Yemenis live below the poverty line. Since 2016, Yemen experienced the worst cholera outbreak in history. The conflict has caused poverty, food insecurity, a health crisis, and more than 17,000 deaths since 2015. There is great suffering in Yemen.

When we witness such a severe conflict, particularly one that is man-made, what does it mean to have Persistent Hope?

Hope is the desire or expectation for something not yet realized to happen or come to fruition. Suffering and brokenness are preconditions for hope. For as Romans 8:24 says, “Who hopes for what they already have?” Hope is the profound anticipation that one day the future reality can be different, better, whole, redeemed. Hope holds onto the belief that one day Yemen, the Middle East, and the world can be a place without war, violence, and suffering.

When discussing his recent visit to Yemen, Oxfam Humanitarian Policy Lead Scott Paul said that almost every Yemeni person he encountered said the same thing, “All I want is for the conflict to end.” The Yemeni people want peace. They hope for peace. They continue to hold onto the belief that one day, their future reality will be one without hunger and desperation and fear of violence, but one day peace will come.

Our work at Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) comes alongside of the people of Yemen in their hope for peace. But we do not enter into hope passively. Rather, we diligently work toward peace and engage in advocacy for justice. Persistent Hope inspires us, compels us, and keeps us engaged. We will remain steadfast in our hope for a different tomorrow.

Join us in praying for an end to the war in Yemen.

Lord God,

You are the creator of all things. Come with your mercy and grace. We ask for your intervention and power. Bring the violence of the civil war and the military conflict in Yemen to an end. Touch the hearts and minds of the people in Yemen, and wherever wars rage, that they might hold onto hope for a new tomorrow. Encourage their spirits that they may not despair. We pray for hope and courage as we work and wait for peace to come.

Amen.