As the final hot days of summer begin to make their way towards fall, we’re still wondering how long the chaos we’re living in is going to last.

Here’s what I see when I look down the road: A pandemic which is still wreaking havoc in our lives; racial and political unrest the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Sixties; a forecast of the worst hurricane season on record; wildfires on a scale not experienced before; and the nastiest, most complicated, and high stakes election in our country’s history.

These times we’re living through challenge every inner map we have with which to navigate the world. I say “through” because I believe that we will come out the other side of this, that we not stuck here, that this has not become a new normal for our country.

“Hope is being able to see the light despite all the darkness.”– Desmond Tutu

Recently I had a conversation on Zoom with a couple of friends about the difference between faith, trust and hope. We never came to a consensus, but it got me to thinking.

We are in a cave right now. A dark and treacherous cave.

Faith is what tells us we are in this cave for a reason even if we haven’t a clue what it is. In Hebrews, 11:1, we’re told that “faith is the conviction of things not seen.” Obviously, what’s not seen is the outcome of this mess we’re in, but spiritually and cosmically speaking, it’s also why we’re in it to begin with. Is this just the result of human beings’ careless and short-sighted choices? Is it some kind of really bad cosmic joke? Faith stirs in our soul and says, “No, it’s not that at all. Keep walking.”

Trust tells us that when, not if, we stumble and fall, there is something there to catch us, get us back on our feet and point us in the right direction. That something may be the God of our personal understanding, our spouse or partner, friends, family. It may be our inner strength, our human will, or our innate resiliency. It doesn’t matter what it is. Trust gathers itself up in our gut and says, “I’ve got your back. You aren’t alone in this cave. Keep walking.”

Hope is what tells us this cave is not a dead end, that there is a passage to an opening which leads to the other side. It’s not optimism and makes no promise of something wonderful awaiting us. It’s simpler than that. Archbishop Desmond Tutu says, “Hope is being able to see the light despite all the darkness.” Even though our human eyes cannot navigate in the pitch dark, our hearts can. Hope fills our hearts and says, “Close your eyes. Now, see the light. Follow it and keep walking.”