We are, as a people, in the midst of very difficult times. We all know this, and accept the circumstances as they are. It doesn’t make it any easier, nor does it help us to endure. To quote somebody, somewhere, “It is, what it is.”
Knowing and accepting we are in a particular situation, doesn’t make the situation better. It is really just an acknowledgement of reality. Just my humble opinion, but isn’t it better to have the facts, know the facts and begin to understand how you are going to deal with whatever situation you find yourself in? I’m a realist by nature, I don’t like sugar-coating, I don’t like fantasy, I don’t like unrealistic projection. I prefer to know what I’m dealing with. It helps me begin to wrap my mind around what I’m facing.
The star was placed on the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center on Tuesday. Lester Holt said it was a sign and symbol of hope. Hope? Really? A simple manufactured unlit star? I was taken a little aback when he made that statement. I don’t see how that is a symbol of hope. Holt went on to say the first Christmas tree was erected in Rockefeller Center in 1931. This was the height of the Great Depression. Workers as the construction site put their money together for a 20 foot Christmas tree because they were thankful to have jobs during the Great Depression. Every year since, there has been a Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. When we were in the midst of World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the assassination of President Kennedy, all the tumultuous times we’ve been through as a nation, we still had a Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.
I think I see Lester Holt’s point, the tree is a symbol of hope. No matter what was going on in our nation, we still paused to see this symbol of an enduring time. It gives us hope to know that nothing has stood in the way of this tradition.
When you are in the midst of a difficult time though, how do you begin to even dare to have hope? Of course, we can remember the passage from Hebrews 11: 1, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” That helps us out when it comes to faith, but how do you muster up the courage to have hope?
When I look at all the world is going through right now, its hard to even think about hope. When I think about all the people who are distanced from loved ones, can they dare to have hope? When I look at my own situation, what is going on in my home as I write this, what am I even doing talking about hope?
Then I’m reminded of a people, God’s people, who had been promised for eons that a savior would come and deliver them. They waited, and waited, and waited. Many times during that long time of waiting they would be tried and tested. Hope would be in short supply. But then the day came when Jesus was born, and the waiting was over and the hope was realized.
This pandemic has been exhausting, no other way to say it. This social distancing thing, this no touching thing, this no hugging thing has just about done us in, maybe I’m just speaking for me. We all want to know when will it end? Every week seems to bring worse news about positive cases, full hospital wards, rising death tolls. It just seems like many of us are at our wits end and just can’t go on any longer. It is into this kind of situation that Jesus speaks. Jesus speaks and says, “I am with you.” “I know the way is hard, but know that I am with you.” “I know you are tired and exhausted, but I am with you.” “I know it seems like you can’t go on, but I am with you.” “I know death is just around the corner, but I am with you.”
Friends, we serve a God who will never leave us or forsake us. We serve a God who, as the Black gospel songwriter says, “I just can’t give up now. Come too far from where I started from. Nobody told me the road would be easy. And I don’t believe he brought me this far to leave me.” We are a resilient people because we can dare to hope in a future we can’t see. We are a faith-filled people because we believe in the promise of God being with us in every circumstance. Whether we are depressed and exhausted, or we are sick and in the hospital, or we are facing our own mortality and death, God IS with us. That’s where our hope comes from. That’s why we can dare to have hope. Not because a Christmas tree is erected in some public place, but because our God has never left us.
Please hold on to your faith in this time we’re in. Please continue to be a witness for Jesus Christ. Please dare to have hope. And know this, Jesus PROMISED us, “I am with you until the end of the age.”
Your fellow traveler on The Way,