November 30, 2020
Finding Hope in 2020
For many of us, finding hope in 2020 has been a daunting task. Few of us expected COVID-19 to inflict sickness, death, and heartache worldwide. We have been forced to stay at home, follow the three W’s, and sometimes
quarantine ourselves for the sake of others. Separated from family, friends, co-workers, our students, and church as we knew it, put us into a sort of forced exile. A sense of sadness, anxiety and despair crept into our lives. Meeting on Sundays at the corner of Hawthorne Lane and 5th Street ceased. Working from home, Zoom meetings, and virtual learning became commonplace. Parents became more active teachers as they struggled to manage their career responsibilities and homeschooling simultaneously. Healthcare workers and first responders risked their own health and the safety of their families to care for the sick and dying. Despite the dangers, essential workers continued to keep goods and services running. Yes, we responded in unprecedented ways! Educators found ways to reach
their students virtually. Scientists and researchers began work on therapies and vaccines, and our clergy developed strategies to reach their scattered church! Most of us listened to the experts….wear a mask, wash your hands, and wait six feet apart. Although difficult, we stopped hugging and holding hands when greeting friends and loved ones. Checking in on neighbors and loved ones was heightened to a new level…often requiring great effort. None of this has been easy!
In Psalm 40, David reminds us to put our “hope in the Lord. He leaned down to me; he listened to my cry for help. He lifted me out of the pit of death, out of the mud and filth, and set my feet on solid rock. He steadied my legs. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise for our God. Many people will learn of this and be amazed; they will trust the Lord. Those who put their trust in the Lord, who pay no attention to the proud or to those who follow lies, are truly happy!” Job 11:13-19 encourages us not to give up during hard times and to have abiding hope. “If you make your mind resolute and spread your palms to him, if you throw out the sin in your hands and don’t let injustice dwell in your tents, then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure and not fear. You will forget trouble; you will remember it as water that flows past. A life span will rise brighter than noon; darkness will be like morning. You will be secure, for there is hope; and you will look around and rest safely.”
To be honest, there have been times when the events of 2020 have been somewhat paralyzing. When a friend shared on social media a conversation “Between God and Me” who has confessed to paralyzing fear, it really struck a nerve! Here is the conversation:
God: Remember how your daughter woke up the other night and came running down the hall to your bedroom?
God: You were still awake, so when you heard her running, you started calling out to her before she even got to you…remember? Do you remember what you called out to her?
Me: I said, “You’re okay! You’re okay! You’re okay! I’m here.”
God: Why did you call out to her? Why didn’t you just wait for her to get to your room?
Me: Because I wanted her to know that I was awake, and I heard her, and she didn’t have to be afraid until she reached the end of the dark hallway.
God: Exactly. I hear you, my child. I hear your thoughts racing like feet down the dark hallway. There’s another side to all of this. I’m there already. I’ve seen the end of it. And, I want you to know right here, as you walk through it all, you’re okay. I haven’t gone to sleep, and I won’t.
When we contemplate being on our own in dealing with the challenges we face, it’s easy to become afraid and discouraged. Right now, we are bombarded by so many unknowns, and fear can become a constant companion. But, if we trust in God’s presence in our circumstances and imagine God saying, “You’re okay! I’m here!” then we can look forward during this time of Advent with hope, knowing that we are okay and that God is holding us in the palms of his hands.