Hope was gone for Native Americans by the end of the 19th century. The traditional ways for them had become essentially impossible. For the Crow Nation their way of life was inseparable from the buffalo herds that roamed the plains. When the buffalo were killed off by white men the Crow could see no future for themselves.
Chief Plenty Coups saw visions early in his life. In one of them he saw a great forest entirely blown down by a great wind. All that was left was one lone tree, the one that was home to the chickadee, a bird the Crow people believed to be wise about the future.
The Chief saw that vision, as well as others he’d had, as signs of a new future. He told others about his visions and people listened. The Chief proposed that there was still a future for his people, even in the absence of the buffalo that had been so crucial for their very survival. He inspired in the tribe a critical element that was missing: hope.
The Crow suffered loss of a fundamental kind. Nevertheless, they decided to try new things and they made uncomfortable but necessary adjustments. They resisted despair. In comparison to other native America tribes, the Crow did much better as they made their way into the new age.
Without hope there can be no joy or even life. Hope can sustain us when we face difficulties we did not anticipate and uncertainties we’re not sure how to face. Hope tells us that there is a future for us even if we can’t see it with any clarity. As scripture says, “Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Roman 8:24-25).
We can be tempted to despair for a host of reasons: serious illness, irreconcilable family conflicts, loss of job, financial distress, political chaos or any combination of these things. It can become difficult to see a better future. But as Christians we must see all things from the perspective of an empty tomb. The resurrection of Jesus gives us hope even when we can see no way forward. And that changes everything.
Grace and Peace,