I once heard that suffering is pain plus the knowledge that it could be so much better. Many times in the last couple of months I've thought bad thoughts about Adam and Eve. God's original plan was for us to live in a perfect Utopian Garden with Him.... a paradise. But like anyone who has been in a relationship knows, love involves free will. So, of course, there was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Once we took of that apple- things forever changed. Ignorance is bliss. I wish I could go back to that garden, living in paradise with God, the way he initially intended, without death, tears, or suffering. But no, now I have to live with knowing that death, pain, and tears are an everyday part of my life. And that is the beginning of suffering... experiencing pain and knowing that it could have been better.
But here is where we get to the good part... the hope of Christmas. See, for thousands of years after Adam and Eve the world was dark with this knowledge of suffering until a tiny baby was born in a stable in Bethlehem and EVERYTHING changes, because essentially Hope was born. Jesus was our way out of this mess and His birth was the beginning of a beautiful story of redemption, and of restoration. My favorite Christmas Carol of all time has ALWAYS been Oh Holy Night. And in this season of life I focus on this phrase: "The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks the new and glorious morn..."
Romans 15: 12-15
"And Isaiah says, 'A new king will come from the family of Jesse. He will come to rule over the
non-Jewish people, and they will have HOPE because of Him. Isaiah 11:10"
"Since we have been made right with God by our faith, we have peace with God. This happened
through our Lord Jesus Christ, who through our faith has brought us into that blessing of God'sgrace that we now enjoy. And we are happy because of the hope we have of sharing God's
glory. We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce
patience, and patience produces character, and character produces hope."
See, God doesn't promise an easy journey. In fact, the root of all our joy and hope seems to stem from our troubles. I have learned in recent months that hope means everything. The days when hope seems farthest away, are the hardest.
"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."
But what exactly is Hope? Vaciav Havel puts it well:
"Hope is definitely not the same as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out
well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out."
See, I am not naive anymore. I know that life doesn't always turn out well, but I know that if tomorrow brings another disappointment, that I can still rest in the HOPE that Christ will be with me through this disappointment. Our objective is not to get through this trouble, silently waiting for life's next struggle. God has a higher goal for us... to put Him at such a place in our lives where the storms of life may come, but hope rises above it. That I build my relationships with Christ in such a way that it can't be broken That I will have the same response to Him no matter what happens.
"For in this hope we were saved. but hope that is seen is not hope at all. Who hopes for what
they already have seen? But we have a hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it
Although my heart is still broken, although this has been the hardest time of life, although hope seems so distant and is my ONLY prayer for Christmas this year, there is something ever so small rising up in me and it feels a little like hope. What do I have to be hopeful for in this season of life you might ask? Not that I'm going to have a perfect life after this or that this is where my sorrow ends. I know I will wake up tomorrow and my heart will break all over again. My hope is found in a meek manger, because in that lies my future. It starts the chain of events that will eventually lead me back to that perfect Utopian garden where there will be no more tears, and death is just a memory. I'll leave you with this quote from Max Lucado:
"Hope is not what you'd expect; it is what you would never dream. It is a wild, improbable tale
with a pinch-me-I'm-dreaming ending...Hope is not a granted wish or a favor performed; no, it
is far greater than that. It is a zany, unpredictable dependence on a God who loves to surprise
us out of our socks and be there in the flesh to see our reaction."