Eagle of Hope

By Rev. Fr. Eva Chuma Nnamene

To talk about the eagle of hope, might look like a misnomer. What is the connection between eagle and hope? True, until you know about eagles, you probably might not associate it with hope. But the truth is that eagle symbolizes hope. Eagle symbolizes strength.

The eagle is a special species of birds. It has longevity. It could outlive humans. The psalmist says our life span is seventy or eighty for those who are strong (Psalm 90: 10). But the eagle can live as long as hundred years. Incredible. You cannot imagine: how will the feathers look like at hundred years? Would they be gray, bald, or haggard? It is really unimaginable.

However, every ten years, the eagle is said to fly so high - to get the closest it could be to the sun, and when the heat of the sun cannot allow it fly any close again; it dives into the ocean where it renews its feathers. It flies out again, re-feathered, renewed, refreshed, reinvigorated, and ready to face another ten years. What an amazing feat. But that is the route the eagle goes unless it gets killed or hits its hundredth year.

No wonder why, culture after culture, nation after nation, the eagle is revered. In Asia, and in fact, from African, to Europe, and even to the Americas, the eagle is revered. It is a symbol of hope and strength. The Nigerian coat of arms bears the eagle as the symbol of strength together with the two horses. The eagle is mentioned a couple of places in the Bible. And in some of those places, the passages highlight those wonderful and God-given qualities of the eagle: longevity, the wings (feathers), the strength, the eagle's eyes, and so on.

It was the Prophet Isaiah who brought out this symbolism of hope in the Lord with the eagle's capabilities. He saw the human exercise of waiting as hoping in the Lord. And he brings hope to those who wait on the Lord. For according to him, "those who wait on the Lord, they shall renew their strength, they shall fly so high with their wings as the eagles, and they shall run and not get weary, and shall walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40: 31).

Those who wait on the Lord are not those who are indolent. It is said that God abhors indolence. It is said also that an idle mind is the devil's workshop. Thus, waiting on the Lord is not daydreaming. To wait on the Lord is to hope on Him. It is to believe in His omnipotence. It is to believe that with God nothing is impossible (Luke 1: 37). It is to have the conviction that God will surely not abandon you. If you hope on Him, things might not always be glorious and colourful; but the promise is that you will never be weary and you will never faint. That is the eagle's hope.

As Christians, our hope in the Lord enjoins us to steadfastness; to continue hoping. The prayer of St Theresa of Avila invites to hope: "Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end".

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