The Advent season has passed. Christmas has come and we continue to celebrate its octave. Now the New Year hovers. They say that “Hope springs eternal” but there is much in these days that wants to stamp it out. I needn’t begin a list but one statistic I read this morning is enough to start me down the dismal path: more than 3100 murders in Juarez, Mexico in 2010. What is the answer there, God?
How do I hold on to hope when I am slammed up against such realities? I sat in the living room early one morning this week, staring at our small potted Christmas tree with its merry lights and jumble of ornaments. It was a melancholy moment but I don’t remember what exactly I was wondering. I do know that it had to do with the future: mine, ours, the world’s, the planet’s… “God, what are you thinking?” Suddenly my eyes were drawn to an ornament I had never noticed before. It was a simple thing, a single word, and it sparkled in the darkness: Hope.
“What’s the difference between hoping and wishing?” I wondered. Many people would say that the things I’ve said I hope for are just wishful thinking. I might as well write a letter to Santa Claus. But there is a difference. Wishing has a passive sigh about it. Hope asks me to roll up my sleeves and get to work. And I have been willing to work for what I hope for, even when I haven’t seen the results I for which I hoped. God has planted hope in my heart again and again. Without hope, mine and others for me, I wouldn’t even be here today!
God hopes in me. God hopes in you. God hopes in us. We are the answer. We are what God thinks about all this mess. For as a friend of mine is fond of quoting, “The Incarnation is a messy business.” I have not approved of how God is handling some situations that seem hopeless. My two cents worth of suggestions and elbow-grease don’t seem to be working. But I know I don’t see the big picture. God’s picture.