You’ll Never Walk Alone
A popular song points to real hope against cancer and other struggles.
by Craig Lawrence
Lyrics from the song, “you’ll never walk alone” have offered encouragement to those in crisis since its composition in 1945.
“When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark
At the end of a storm
There’s a golden sky
And the sweet silver sound of a lark.
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone.
You’ll never walk alone.”
Inspiring as the lyrics are, as enduring as their melody remains (in 2020 adopted as the official anthem of encouragement to medical workers fighting Covid-19 in the UK and Europe), the song leaves me unfulfilled and searching.
“Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart,” I sing along with the unforgettable melody, but I long to know where this promised hope comes from, and how I can ever find that “golden sky.”
I want to go back to when Rogers and Hammerstein were writing the song and tell them, “You have to rewrite the lyrics to tell me where the hope comes from. You can’t just leave me hanging!”
Hoping for hope
Do you feel that way—hoping for hope that’s real—hope that can carry you through the forced isolation of Covid and the fear and dread of cancer or some other struggle?
Just now I’m staring out the window of our home and remembering another time when I felt this way. I had just resigned from a non-profit position that had drained me completely, left me so emotionally exhausted that all I could do, honestly, was well up with tears. I felt beaten, crushed, and alone.
It was fall and I decided to go for a walk on a Minnesota trail painted in the color of fallen autumn leaves. As I walked the still-green grass carpeted with Aspens and Maples, after a time, I thought I could hear the sound of someone else walking beside me.
It was odd, each of my steps echoed by the footsteps of another, but when I stopped to listen, the woods fell silent.
As I walked on, I heard the sounds again. And then a quiet voice within me whispered, “Craig, you’ll never walk alone. I am with you.”
The words were whispered yet thundered in my ears. I cannot describe the feeling of comfort and companionship I felt in that moment except to say that it was real.
I know it’s crazy, an old man walking in the leaves and hearing what he thinks is the voice of God.
But hear me out.
Where I find hope
Much of what believe is based on a book—one of the oldest and most reliable books in history: the Bible. Check out these verses about hope. For me, they unequivocally answer my previous question: where does hope come from?
Like these words:
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life(1).”
These words are on the money for me, especially during difficult days. I long for hope, like a tree of life. It helps my heart, on those battered and dark days.
“God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish(2).”
Just an hour ago I had felt alone and forgotten by God and everyone else.
But these words I’m reading are soothing to me. So, I open the book to another page and read:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit(3).”
And then another:
“May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you(4).”
Then this one stops me:
“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his Word I put my hope(5).”
That’s me, it’s like my body and my soul and my mind have been groaning aloud, waiting for something to rescue me from these feelings.
Hope for fear
Here are some words to help with fear:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze(6).”
Even if you are unfamiliar with God or his words, you have to admit those words are hopeful! I know I need this presence, this comfort in my suffering and somehow it seems strong enough enough to carry me through.
You can read these comforting Bible verses for yourself, see the references in the footnotes of this article.
Here are more words that thunder to me off the pages:
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me(7).”
Maybe you have never prayed before. The words are not so important as the attitude of the heart.
You could just start by telling God how you feel about your circumstance and ask for help.
How you’ll never walk alone
Or you could pray something like this: “Okay, I open the door. I want you to come in, I can’t live without you any longer. I know your name is Jesus. I’ve heard about you all my life, but I never took the time to read your book or ask for your help. But I am now. Please, come in.”
As I have sat alone in silence, pondering, wondering, but aware something has happened to me, I have felt hope springing up in me like flowers in the spring.
And it will happen to you as you reach out across time and into the eternity of God’s love for you. As you reach out to God, may you hear the sounds of his footsteps in your cancer journey or whatever struggles you face today.
Today is the day for you to experience the truth of what the popular song says: you’ll never walk alone.
For more help, read:
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I have a question or comment
How to know God’s hope, strength and peace
Note: We are not doctors and we cannot answer your medical questions. However, we welcome your questions about finding hope and knowing God.
Footnotes: (1) Proverbs 13:12 NIV(2) Psalm 9:18 NIV (3) Romans 15:13 NIV (4) Psalm 33:22 NIV (5) Psalm 130:5 NIV (6) Isaiah 43:1b-2 NIV (7) Revelation 3:20 NIV