It doesn’t feel like a year ago that I was writing this post, summing up 2014, but here I am, at the close of another year.
I started 2015 with a strong focus on hope, as I wrote here, and this very much stayed with me throughout the year. I have learnt that hope is a matter of choice not circumstance, that it is brave and courageous. I’ve found that it is not just an emotion but a way of life, one that I want to buy into.
This year I found hope in some of the darkest corners of my life and world, where I least expected to find it. I made the first steps of reconciliation with a lost friend; I watched as friends stepped up to help with the refugee crisis; I applied for jobs, battling against knock-backs; I continued on our complicated journey towards being able to have a family and I worked with children who were on an uphill struggle to fit into our education system. Opportunities to choose hope presented themselves daily and were sometimes challenging, but they grew my soul like little else could.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
I think that hope is underrated in our increasingly burdened and cynical world. We tend to write off a hopeful outlook as naive or fear the disappointment that we think will surely come if we put our hope in someone or something. But the beauty of hope is that the end result in some ways doesn’t really matter. Hope does us good in the here and now; it helps us to see the goodness already there; it refreshes those around us.
Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come…” …Gladness and joy will overtake them and sorrow and sighing will flee away. from Isaiah 35
As I approach Christmas and the New Year, I’m reminded that the first Christmas was the beginning of new hope in the midst of sadness and struggle. That God’s Redeemer was a human baby born into poverty and oppression gives us hope that God comes into our human troubles and afflictions and walks with us in them. He knows what it is to be fragile and yearning like we are. Sure, his death and resurrection give us hope that one day all evil can and will be overcome, that restoration must surely be around the corner – but the hope of Christmas time is that God is with us, now, in the sorrow and sighing, strengthening our feeble hearts.
In 2015 God has begun in me a flickering hope that I pray will strengthen and grow in the years to come. As we approach a new year, my prayer for all of us and our fragile hearts is that we will find his hope right in the midst of the struggles and griefs we face, just as much as we do in the good times.