“I’m not sure I can do this anymore!” says a friend in desperation.
Maybe you’ve said this too. Perhaps all of us have been in a similar dark place or have walked alongside a friend or family member who’s been there. In these dark places—these times of pain and suffering—we grieve, we weep, and we lament. We can’t see how things could possibly get better. In these times, we also find ourselves desperately looking for hope, seeking a sign, a hint, a promise that things will improve.
In his gospel, Luke tells a story of anticipation and hope, summarized to angels who brought this message to lowly shepherds: “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10–11, NIV).
The language of the good news of a Messiah, of a Saviour, is hopeful, but it too, is rooted in suffering and pain. I can imagine the conversation moments before this hopeful message was brought by angels to Mary and Joseph. This young teenaged couple—not yet married—were in a dark place. Mary was giving birth to a baby she would name Jesus in a barn, in a strange city with no family, no supports, and no financial means to change their situation. Their future that would include homelessness, running for their lives, and being refugees in a foreign land. What kind of future was that? Did anyone care about their current or future plight? I can imagine Mary and Joseph whispering to each other, “I’m not sure I can do this anymore.”
But in bursts hope with the arrival of the shepherds: You are not alone, Mary and Joseph. You are cared for by the great Creator. You are part of a bigger story. Your life—this birth—has a purpose, a grand purpose. The earlier angelic promise and words, “You who are highly favored! The Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28 NIV), would have come flooding back, casting light into their impossible situation.
I recently asked the question on social media, “What brings you hope?”
A barrage of answers came in, most including a truth-awakening message of anticipated goodness. Almost all included a connection to people with themes of purpose, love, acceptance, worth, and belonging. Most often those who had experienced desperate situations spoke of a dusting of hope that gave them courage to carry on.
In my work at Indwell, and in my faith community at New Hope Church (the name says it all, doesn’t it?), we get to see these moments of hope burst through and beginning to take root. A friend labels these early glimpses of hope during dark times as “God Fragments.” At the beginning, we hardly dare to believe these hopeful moments, but God Fragments are real, and this is good news for all of us!
Jesus’ birth brings great joy for all people. Hope rises out of darkness. We are all part of a larger story of Hope that is unfolding. A new way of living where love is the only commandment (see Romans 13:8-10).
Light is breaking through darkness. Home is breaking through homelessness. Belonging is breaking through loneliness. Love is breaking through hate. Freedom is breaking through addiction. Purpose is breaking through disillusionment. Health is breaking through illness. Hope has been planted—and hope is growing!
We are the people who carry this good news of hope. We are the people who follow Jesus and his example of bringing hope to a hurting and broken world. May we all experience an extra measure of hope this season and live our lives to extend hope to others.