By Suzanne Newton
A survival story is the story you tell (or the witness you bear) after you’ve lived through (or “outlived”) an experience.
It describes the experience; it tells what a person had to do to get through the experience. Ever after that, it holds a meaning for the survivor that transcends the actual experience.
Stories of survival are not always grim, although they have that potential. Some are humorous, some heroic. Look at the midwives Shifra and Pua who persuaded Pharaoh that Israelite women bore children so fast the midwives couldn’t get to them (and thus the baby boys, including Moses, survived). Isaac’s survival story probably sometimes woke him up in a cold sweat when he remembered his father stood over him with a knife raised to sacrifice him…but didn’t. Paul seemed to relish telling stories of his own survival, not because they made him look good, but made God look good.
Hope is what results when, at the far end of trial and tribulation, we realize we are still here. We take our pulse. It’s beating. We look back and see the way we’ve come. “Oh!” we remark, full of amazement. When we turn face forward again, no matter what lies ahead, we now have hope to come through it, because we just did.
Paul said it like this:
…Let us even exult in our present sufferings, for we know that suffering trains us to endure, and endurance brings proof that we have stood the test, and this proof is the ground of hope. (Romans 5:3-4)
During Advent, hope – and live with hope.