Last week, I had a routine MRI.
For those unfamiliar with an MRI machine, it’s basically like being encased in a giant humming cocoon. And if you enjoy sleeping in bunk beds where the top mattress is a mere 12 inches above your head, you will find an MRI quite cozy.

This particular MRI required me to be face down.
I thought, a view to the ground might offer a bit of visual relief.
However, instead of an open vista, I found myself gazing into a confined space.
Seconds later, as my mind began to race with unease, I asked for a swift exit.
Doubting my ability to endure.

Then I had an idea.
What if, instead of looking down, I could tilt my head to see out the tube’s opening?
To catch a glimpse of the world outside my confined space for the next 15 minutes.
I looked up.
I looked out.
I kept my eyes fixed on the end of the tunnel.
Both literally and figuratively.
It made all the difference in the world.

If you read last week’s blog about hoping, praying, and believing just a little longer during the grueling 17th mile of a metaphorical marathon, imagine today’s blog as a beacon of hope for mile 18.
I think every runner should carry a photo of themselves crossing a finish line.
Not as wishful thinking.
But a tangible reminder that,
Yes, this is hard.
Excruciating at times.
But ahead lies something greater.
A finish line where pain transforms into triumph.

So, what is your ‘finish line’ photo?
The one that reminds you of what you are aiming for.
That is your Hope Picture.
Keep your gaze fixed on that.
It will shift your focus from the immediate struggle to the ultimate goal.

For the anxious flyer in the dark of night, a photo of a clear, sunny sky can be helpful.
For the student overwhelmed with textbooks and deadlines, a snapshot of their diploma on graduation day can be a beacon of motivation.
And for those buried under the weight of debt, an image of a ‘Paid in Full’ notice could serve as a hopeful symbol of a future free from financial chains.

If you just cannot find a picture of hope right now, keep a small flashlight close by.
In those moments when life seems like an endless, dark tunnel, turn it on.
Let that small beam remind you that no matter how overwhelming the darkness,
God’s light is unwavering.
It trumps all else.
It is the truest picture of hope.
It is a reminder that with God, even the faintest light holds the promise of a new dawn.