This photograph was taken near Nipomo, California, February, 1936, by Dorothea Lange. It first appeared in the San Francisco News, March 10, 1936. It became the iconic photo that resulted in relief for the hundreds of pea pickers trying to survive the depression era crop failure.
The sense of despair is evident in the harried face of Florence Thompson (not identified until 1978). The photo captures the sense of despondency brought on by the certain misfortune of the present and the uncertainty of the future.
Situations like those captured in this photograph and the 100s of others brought on by the depression were, in part, responsible for the New Deal of the Roosevelt administration. Something had to be done to relieve the misfortune. Action had to be taken which could produce some sense of hope.
Every person faces some uncertainty in his or her life. Our experiences are real. Life throws curve balls. Bad things happen even to the best of people. It is little wonder that hopelessness pervades our culture. One social scientist labels it, “An Epidemic of Despair.” Google “hopelessness” and you’ll find hundreds of suggestions. Most of them fail in one significant way…they fail to recognize the reality that some situations are actually hopeless. There’s good reason to feel despair.
Denial is not the solution to despair. Optimism and self-talk are not the answers. The only solution to despair is Hope. And hope is only hope when God is involved; otherwise, it’s merely wishful thinking. Jeremiah reminds Israel of God’s promises. Mary sings of God’s intentions for His people. There…and only there…do we catch glimpses of Hope. Not just wishful thinking, but absolute confidence that in spite of how dire circumstances may be, we still believe that God holds the future.