This year has been filled with a lot of things, but I can honestly say, it’s been filled with hope. Through uncertainty, sadness, confusion, and devastation, hope remains. I’ve never seen hope so present in the Christmas story as I have this year. I hear hope in songs, in Scripture, in conversations. And today, through loss.
One of our oldest church members, Mr. Bill, passed away last night. It’s something we have been expecting, but it’s sad, nonetheless. While most people wouldn’t associate Mr. Bill with hope, I do.
When I was at my lowest, following a miscarriage and a life-altering surgery, my phone rang with an unknown number. I answered, and I heard “Maddie- Bill Seal. I bet you didn’t expect a call from me, now did ya?” And I didn’t. That was the one and only time we spoke on the phone. This was his word of encouragement: “I know you’re disappointed, but you’ll get over it.” If you knew Bill at all, I know you’re smiling right now. This is just how he was.
So this morning, as we sat in a muggy church building, not quite sure if it was hot or cold, wet or dry, but definitely drab and gray, I felt like the weather was fitting for a day following loss. But then I thought, “you’ll get over it”. I don’t mean this in a way to say it will only matter for a minute. But I mean it in a way that says God will comfort us and bring us out of this sadness (Psalm 30:5). God will remind us that Mr. Bill was a Christian, and he is now in heaven, free of suffering and sadness.
Through a blunt-like-only-Mr. Bill-could-be quote, I found hope. I sang of joy, of God’s goodness and sacrifice, of pouring out praise, but not of sadness.
Are we grieving? Yes. Are we sad? Yes. Will I miss hearing “Hey Lady!” each Sunday? The biggest yes. But like Romans 15:13 says, the “God of hope [will] fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (NKJV).
Through God alone, we will overcome and cling to the hope that comes through knowing Him.
That’s the thing about hope. We don’t have to pretend it’s all sunshine and roses to be hopeful. We don’t have to be okay, but we know it will be okay. And we know it will be okay because God said He’s with us (Matthew 28:20). We are not alone, we are not abandoned. We are broken, but God is our healer and comforter (see Isaiah 61).
If you feel like the weather today, know that God can bring light into your darkness. He can give you hope in a seemingly hopeless situation. In this Christmas season, you can see, more than ever, His perfect plan unfolding. My sister’s favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”” (NIV). Amen and amen!