For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.-Romans 8:19-24
I’ve seen a lot this year. A lot of good, a lot of things beautiful. I’ve also seen a lot of things wrong. A lot that tells me hope is not easy to come by. A lot that trying to conjure up a little hope in the darkness is next to impossible. A lot that tells me there are Christmas seasons where the magic seems entirely lost as all hopes have been crushed. Because everyone is miserably broken. Broken and battered. Wounded and worn. We come to the end of the year like soldiers who have seen hell. Some mutilated, some scarred, some not even making it this far. And some who have just observed and seen things that rattled their world, though they are still standing.
How is it even possible, pretending like hope can be whipped up out of thin air – attempting to stir up a little of that magic that was there before things shattered, to get back to those feelings of festive merry making. While you’re at how about a cup of cheer to go with it?
The truth is it isn’t possible.
You might get out of bed tomorrow, enjoy a holiday drink from Starbucks, and have a tinge of cheer driving past Christmas decorations and hearing I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas on the radio. You might get to Christmas and have a little holiday spirit to make things merry and bright. But the hard reality is we might not wake up tomorrow and feel hopeful. And even harder, no matter how many Christmas cookies you bake or how much tinsel you hang, you can’t work yourself up to a hopeful spirit. And no matter how vibrant the holiday spirit that brings out the best in the world is, you are still going to wake up to a broken world. A dark world. A world desperate and desolate.
There are days when the day greets you with with shimmering light and a hope that is bursting with magic. Other times hope will be no more than a groan, a cry, like that of a woman in labor.
We live in an already but not yet world. Christ has already come. The babe was already in the manger, grew to a man and was crucified for our sins. Our sin was already atoned for and our new life has already begun. But there are still aspects of our carnal flesh and this world that have yet to be fully reconciled and restored. The brokenness has not yet been entirely fixed, the Kingdom does not yet have full domain, and we are not yet able to experience the entirety of liberation from bondage.
Our hope is here in thick tension as we attempt to walk as God’s children in a dark world. It isn’t hope for good feelings and a Christmassy mood. Our hope digs far down and reaches the deepest aches and most desperate longings. Our hope is that in the blackest of nights a star began to twinkle over a stable and the cry of a newborn king was heard. And He will come again, but this time with the sound of trumpets.
Take heart, there is great hope even in the darkest day.