For many of us, 2016 was a challenging year.
Maybe “challenging” is the PC word you’d use if someone at church asked you about the year you had. In the privacy of your self-talk you might choose another word.
Crappy, or other similar adjectives.
You may have lost a loved one. Been blindsided by abandonment. Been kicked to the curb in the face of injustice or self-interest, in spite of your faithful service. Or faced a dreaded diagnosis-yours or a loved one’s.
We look forward to a new year with hope that life will be better. Why?
Our hopes and fears are almost always intertwined.
My first brain episode almost took my life. Doctors feared they might not be able to turn around the course of my rapid decline. My survival was in question, and it took over sixteen years for doctors to determine a diagnosis. During the first five years following that episode, I feared every symptom that struck my body would return me to a hospital bed and a dreaded diagnosis. I hoped and prayed I would remain healthy and thanked God for the measure of health and strength that returned to me. Many of my hopes and fears were tied to my health for years.
This year as I caught the phrase, “hope and fears of all the years of all the years are met in Thee tonight,” I’ve listened to the words of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” with new insight.
The hopes and fears of all humanity throughout history were met in Jesus’ birth. He lived among us, defeated death, and rose again.
From the moment of His conception, He shared in our human experiences–our pain and suffering, sickness, heartbreak, disappointment, abandonment, hopes, and fears. He took the punishment we deserved to the grave so we could live with hope, free from fear of sin’s punishment and death. We all sin and fall short of God’s glory; we all demand our own way like the selfish rebels we are–yet He loves us so deeply we could never comprehend it.
Because of Jesus, I can look into my future without fear–no matter my diagnosis, income, feelings, or any human circumstances, because He is the source of all hope that has ever or ever will exist and the answer to every fear that has echoed through history.
IMMANUEL–God with us!