We were driving home as we usually do. Pulling down the last stretch of our street, I noticed a butterfly that appeared to cross our path. I hoped I hadn’t hit it.
We get home, the boys started to make their way into the house, walking past the front of our van. Suddenly they stopped. I heard a gasp. I became fearful, immediately thinking that I hit one of our children. I called out, “What is it? What is it?” The boys replied, “It’s a butterfly.”
Our oldest son grabbed her from the grill of our van. “She’s hurt, mama. I think her legs got burned.”
Indeed she was hurt, and three of her legs were completely missing. He gently held her in his hands.
He walked around with her on his finger for sometime. Her wings would open and close. Her head would lift up and down. “Do you think she will be okay, mama?” “I really don’t know. She has lost three legs and I don’t know if she can fly. I really don’t know if she will live, but she sure is beautiful..”
Seconds passed then minutes, and after sometime of him being outside just holding her, our son came in the house with the butterfly in a box. “I named her Hope.”
And hope he did.
He stood there just watching her. “I wanted to shield her from the wind. The wind was knocking her over.”
She seemed worse off inside in the box. She was trapped and probably cold. Her little wings barely moving now.
I stood there watching her and watching our son. Tears filling his eyes his voice crackles, “I don’t want her to die, mama.”
It was then that it hit me so hard, the overwhelming feeling that I wasn’t just looking at a boy hurting for a hurt butterfly, I was catching a glimpse of a savior. Oh that we could only see how Jesus hurts when we hurt.
And so I asked him if I could take his picture while he cried, explaining to him how he reminded me of Jesus in that moment. He just nodded, and tried to wipe away the tears.
There was our son. He was so much larger and so much more powerful than the little bug in the box. His lifespan would most likely far exceed that of any bug, let alone this bug. Why did he care? Why did he hope? Perhaps because Hope had touched him.
And perhaps it was Hope’s fault for crossing into where she shouldn’t cross. But that is what hope does. Hope intersects us. Hope collides with us. Hope holds on to us in the middle of the gravest conditions and makes us want to hold on longer to life. And when we feel the hold of hope, we feel the heart of God.
Hope was looking weak. I suggested our son take Hope outside back into the sunshine to warm up, and so he did.
Our son gently opened the wire fencing that was placed to protect Hope from predators. He carefully coaxed Hope from the box onto his hand and removed her from her cage.
He held Hope once again in his hands.
Our son knelt there next to her open cage with Hope in his hands. I stared at him for some time, moved.
Because isn’t this what Jesus does? He finds us in our brokenness, holds us, protects us, and then sets us free. I imagined Hope flying off right there from his hands. But Hope did not fly. All Hope did was hold on. And after nearly two hours of Hope holding onto our son, it became more and more clear, that Hope was dying. The slightest wind would knock her over. Dying hope is often knocked over by the slightest wind.
Our son placed Hope on a flowering bush in our yard. She rested there for sometime. Come evening she was still alive but hardly opening her wings anymore. Our son left her on the bush overnight hoping to find her gone in the morning.
In the morning, gone she was, but not as our son had hoped. Her body was lifeless. Hope had died.
Our son began to cry. He began to question and get angry, “Why did she have to die? Why does everything here on this earth have to die? Why couldn’t she live?”
Oh, that I was wise enough to answer all of life’s mysteries. I closed my teary eyes and responded, “I don’t know. Sometimes the hurt is so bad, that the greatest way to be healed is to die. That is what the cross is all about. Jesus took on all our pain and shame, our sickness and infirmities, and there on a cross he died so we wouldn’t have to… At least not physically… But when it comes to people, the hurt we are stuck in has to die, in order for us to truly live. As for your butterfly, Hope isn’t trapped in a body that is suffering anymore.”
“You mean she can’t feel this?” He asked opening her wings.
“No. She isn’t in that body anymore.”
He thought on the hard truth for sometime. I found myself thinking long and hard on it too.
There we were, the two of us, staring at a dead butterfly. And yes, I’ll admit it, I was also struggling a bit, “Lord, really? You let a butterfly named ‘Hope’ die? My son hoped so hard for it to live and still it died. How does that build his faith? How does that build his hope?”
It was written long ago. I was reminded of it as I walked in our kitchen after watching our children bury Hope:
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
New King James Version (NKJV)
All the things we hold here will eventually flutter away.
And if we place our hope only in them, and make them the center of our joy, our hope and joy will flutter away as well.
All we can do is care for the things that have been placed in our hands while they are in our hands, understanding that eventually we will have to place them back in the hands of The Lord. In Him is our Hope. In Him is the promise of life eternal.
When Hoped died we placed her body back into the dust from which we all were made.
We gathered rocks and a beautiful flower and laid them above where her body was laid to rest, as some small way to make a record of the gift that she was for the short time we had her… Some small way to say thank you. We imagined her flying in heaven above where true hope is found.
Should something you placed your hope in be gone today… Should your heart be hurting and your soul wrestling, I am praying for you… Writing this to remind you, that when hope dies, hope still lives.
May you give those hurts to Jesus and make room for new life. May you be filled with hope today.