I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to hope lately. Actually, if I’m honest, I’ve been thinking more about hopelessness.
And, yet, it’s almost Christmas. The season of hope, joy, peace, and love. However, I don’t think I’ve ever felt the heartbreak of life like I have this year.
My eyes have rested upon young people who struggle to feel that they belong in this world, so much so they try to end their life. My ears have heard the voices of old men who’ve lost their wives of over 50 years begin to cry like a child as they tell me about their great love.
Oh, how I’ve cried with each of these as they’ve allowed me to sit with them in the empty places in their hearts.
My eyes have seen them, my ears have heard them, and my heart, for the first time, is truly beginning to understand what a true gift it is to have a place to put down our pain and pick up hope instead.
I’ve been wondering why my own heart has felt its own empty places so very much this year. I’ve questioned. I’ve yelled. I’ve cried. I’ve felt broken and in despair. I haven’t known where to put my pain.
I realized all of this as I sat at a work party where great gifts were being given away in a raffle. As I held my red ticket and looked down every time they called a number, I realized I was sitting on the edge of my seat. I was hoping. I had forgotten what that felt like.
Hopelessness had taught me to expect nothing. And yet, it is almost Christmas.
The work party came to a close with the singing of Silent Night and I thought about what it would have been like to see a star, see a baby, and know God had fulfilled a promise to a broken people. And I realized something very important.
Without expecting that hope would come, they would not have known that hope had arrived. God’s miraculous promise would have been nothing more than an unusually bright star and a poor dirty baby.
This year, my heart has felt broken more by the pain and confusion of this world, and yet in contrast, the hope that comes from a great God willing to come to a broken people is coming to life inside of me.
Not only has He given us a place to put our pain, but he became the place to pick up Hope.
It’s almost Christmas.
My prayer for myself as well as for each of you is that in the silent night, under the star shining bright, you would stop to look in the manger.
Do you see what I see?
Is it Emmanuel? God with us? Or is it just a poor dirty baby?
Let hope decide…