Sometimes they rant, sometimes they cry, sometimes they simply sit with frozen faces, deliberately keeping away all traces of emotion. Even that, at some point, becomes emotion. What they all share is the frustration of distance between what seems to be reality and the situation as they desire it to be.
The disciples and more casual followers of Christ sometimes came to him with similar situations: Why can’t I be the one at your right hand? Why does he always get to sit next to you? Where’s my kingdom? Make my brother divide his inheritance with me! We’re hungry!
Whether from faith or frustration, all of these people felt that their situation should be different and that Jesus had the power to make it different.
In some cases, it’s casual selfishness. In some it’s a keen awareness of repeated injustice. In some it’s the inevitable collision of physical and other needs in a non-distributed world. What seems to be a key difference among the sufferers lies in the area of hope and action. Some ingrain their resentment and begin to close their doors around them. Some spread their misery. Some withdraw into deep despondency. Others lash out, sometimes against the perceived cause or perpetrator and sometimes at whomever or whatever is convenient.
The overcomers, though, take ownership and action. They talk face-to-face with the other party. They propose and pursue solutions. They accept the limitations of the current situation but do not believe in its permanence. They change their attitude or their circumstances, or both. They find common ground and make that their foundation for pursuing the future with others.
They pray for miracles and work their way forward, one small step at a time. When the crowd is too tall and too large, they climb a tree. When there is no crowd, they find a quiet place and pray for wisdom and courage. They cast their nets on the other side of the boat. They try something different rather than expecting the world to change its rules for them.
Sometimes, they skip a meal so someone else can eat. They bring their weakness to those who are strong, giving and gaining in their relationships. They forgive, they choose service, they act with bold hope, they endure.
And as long as we endure, there will always be hope.