HOPE. I wonder what that word brings to mind for you. Sometimes we might think of hope as seeing the world with rose-colored glasses or being optimistic that things will go our way. But the hope that is realized in the birth of our Savior is much deeper and more complex than that.
We can’t talk about hope without talking about suffering. Suffering is the birthplace of hope. When things are good and all is as it’s meant to be, there is no reason for hope. But hope is necessary because we live in a world that is broken.
We all have things in our lives that are not as we want them to be - broken relationships, unfulfilled desires, health issues, loss, or injustice. We all know pain and disappointment in some form or another. And yet, God calls us to hope.
This hope does not ignore the suffering or explain it away. It is raw and honest about the current reality. And it is precisely the vulnerability that comes with acknowledging our pain and need before God that leads us to a place where hope is cultivated.
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” – Lamentations 3:19-24 (NIV)
The book of Lamentations was written more than 500 years before Jesus was born. It’s an expression of deep grief and heartbreak over the destruction of the city of Jerusalem by Babylon. The Jewish people spent centuries in both exile and foreign occupation, awaiting the arrival of a Messiah who would deliver them from their oppression. During this time, the prophets called on the people of Israel to lament, to cry out to God, to remember his faithfulness, and to wait.
If we are to experience the true hope that Jesus offers us, we must first be willing to lament. Spend some time today considering an area of pain or suffering in your life or in the world around you. Write or speak out your lament to God. Be honest and vulnerable. Ask questions. Express your doubts. And ask God to remind you of his faithfulness.
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