As we wake up, bleary eyed, on January 1, many of us will do so with relief…relief that 2020 is hindsight. And with hope…hope that 2021 will bring more peace, joy, and hugs.
There’s no way around it; 2020 was rough. Each family rode out the storm facing a variation of gusts, in a variation of boats. But we all felt the impact of the storm – and are coming out the other side feeling a little (or a lot) battered.
But now, we are in the homestretch. And we wait. We wait, with anticipation, for a time when work and education are steady, hugs and high fives are plentiful, and we can pack out a basement to watch a Chiefs game.
This year, particularly, the Christ Child is born into a world in desperate need of comfort and hope. A world that is weary. A world where rejoicing feels just out of reach.
As we wrap up the first week of Advent – one that focuses on hope – we anticipate the coming of a better time. As a matter of fact, that’s what Advent means. Advent is a time of hopeful, expectant waiting.
We anticipate the birth of Emmanuel, God with us. And we wait, not just for Christmas, but for the Kingdom of Heaven to come in fullness. We are living in the “already, but not yet.” Jesus is born and died on the cross. But we still await His triumphant return and the realization of His perfect Kingdom. Advent is a microcosm of our hopeful waiting in faith.
Weary and burdened, we wait for the Lord, Emmanuel, with our whole being and put our hope in His unfailing love. (Psalm 130) Our hope is an anchor for our souls. (Hebrews 6:19) And even in the midst of a difficult year, we are called to be joyful in hope and patient in affliction. (Romans 12:12)
So this Advent season and the year 2020 AD, “may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him…” (Romans 15:13) And may we all feel ‘a thrill of hope as the weary world rejoices.’ If we listen carefully, we might just hear the angel voices sing.
Romans 5:3-4 reminds us that that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. Maybe that’s our silver lining to this pandemic. After all, hindsight is 2020.