In 1487 the explorer Batholomeu Dias set sail from Portugal to find a sea route to the riches of the East. He was forced ashore at the southernmost tip of Africa, and he named the place Cape of Storms, alluding to the tempest he had endured. He was not able to continue his journey, but he was so convinced that he had discovered the route he was looking for that he later changed the name to Cape of Good Hope. Often our hope lies in the same spot as our storms.
This promontory lies at the maritime crossroads of the world. It is here that the East first met the West in treacherous stormy waters. With over twenty-six recorded shipwrecks, it wasn't a place where you really wanted to hang out. But it was a place you not only had to endure but had to navigate your way through if you wanted to find the wealth on the other side.
Every person is an explorer in his or her own right, searching for meaning and purpose and a route that will make life richer. And like maritime explorers of old, most of us have been forced ashore at key times on our journey. The waves, the weather, and the danger stand in the way of our planned route to riches. Regardless of the form the obstacle takes--illness, financial crisis, divorce, depression--much of what we have worked and longed for feels threatened and destined to be dashed on the rocks straight ahead.
Fortunately, this is precisely the place where hope lives. No one finds hope until she feels hopeless. No one looks for more meaning in life until he fears that life has lost much of its meaning. And no one can fully see how the cape of storms actually becomes the cape of good hope until they round the other side.
As we search for the rich life offered to us in Christ, we all need help navigating the rough waters at the crossroads of our lives. There is a route of trust and peace in the midst of life's raging storms, but it’s not a path, it’s a person. Jesus himself said, "I am the way" (John 14:6). He is the route we are searching to find; his love and care are what transform the cape of storms into the cape of good hope.
Be encouraged. Any route to a rich life takes us through stormy seas. If you are in the middle of a difficult time, chances are good that you're about to find a new passage to hope and freedom. If you aren't in a storm now or haven’t encountered one recently, count your blessings--and then batten down the hatches, because a squall might be on its way. Storms are a part of life, but they don't have to cause us to abandon ship or abort the trip, even when we are forced ashore. The shore just might offer us the vantage point to a new way of life.
We are all on different legs of the voyage. Some of us have just set out on what we feel will be the greatest adventure of our lives. Full of enthusiasm and joy, we step aboard our waiting ship. Others have been on the boat for a while now, already tossed about by waves, but their anticipation is still high. And there are those who feel buffeted and uncertain their craft will even weather the storm. They face the very real possibility of drowning or being forced ashore. And yet, I know there are a number of brave explorers who have already rounded the cape of storms. They too wondered if they would ever make it to the other side. They are the ones who look back to see the cape of good hope shining like a jewel under sunny skies.
It was a full ten years before another Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, rounded the very same cape. He went on to reach India, making him the first person to open the sea route from Europe to the East and prove that rounding the Cape of Good Hope was indeed a way to reach the riches of the East.
I invite you dear explorers, to sail on. Feel the sun on your back and the wind in your hair, and dare to keep going forward toward the life you long for. And hold tightly to the mast in the middle of the tempest and know that this storm, too, shall pass, and the morning will come. Then stand on the deck as the new day dawns and give thanks to God that you made it safely around the cape of storms. Finally, smile, knowing you are stronger now and the very thing that threatened to destroy you is the proof of your survival. You possess the strength to believe that whatever comes, you will be able to weather it with good, solid, hope!