For the first time this week, the news in relation to Covid-19 was positive as it seems the possibility of a vaccine is now looking likely and there was a cautious optimism expressed by interviewees on the radio. This, allied with the victory of Joe Biden in America proved the truth of that important maxim that, Where there is life there is hope.
Sincere apologies to Donald Trump supporters; I am just referring to the overall mood which seemed to emanate from around the world, and indeed within the United States when the election was finally called in favour of the Democratic candidate.
We have been through some very dark days this year and sadly many events have proved to us that some people found it too difficult to cope. We must never judge others as only God can see into our individual hearts. However as Christians we believe that the Lord who goes before us is leading us with a purpose. Fear of the future is a horrid thing which only serves to keep us apart from the life of today, instead of participating in it. Because we are in the shadow we need not conclude that God has cast us aside. It is the virtue of hope which reminds us not to be discouraged or consumed by the tyranny of a present painful situation.
Season of Hope
This month we are on the brink of the great Season of Hope…Christmas, that moment in time when God broke into human history. The way we celebrate it this year will probably be very different, depending on what level is imposed upon us, but the central message does not change. The birth of Jesus reveals to us that we have a loving Father, that we are all God’s children, and that we have an eternal destiny in Heaven.
The news of Christmas is good news which should give us new hope, new heart, new courage, the strength to continue struggling to live as God has called us to live, despite our weakness and the difficulties we have to contend with.
Not a Fantasy
We are told that it is possible for a person to live up to seventy days without food, nearly ten days without water and that one can live up to six minutes without air. But there is one thing it is impossible to live without – hope. Because when we find ourselves in difficult circumstances, our hope can sustain us and this hope comes from knowing that life has meaning, that God loves us and is always with us to help us to carry our burdens.
We can hope for a better future although the present is dark or we can hope that our pain and difficulty is not the end of the world, for our circumstances may change. However, we must not think that we are using hope as a drug to numb us to present pain. The opposite is true: our hope enables us to see the present with hopeful eyes that see how things can be different, thus propelling us forward to become what we can be.
Hope is not a last resort, a form of wishful thinking, a final straw to cling to in defiance of all the evidence. The chief marker of hope is not any kind of fantasy but instead the unflinching and truthful apprehension of the real world in all its frustrating messiness. When we refuse to be defeated by it we recognise that by responding to, and co-operating with, the true depth of reality we will encounter God’s love and providence.
Hand in hand with hope is of course patience. In difficult times, such as we are living through now, we may feel that God has withdrawn from us but his promise is that He is always with us.
As I write we are half-way through our six – week lockdown and we are expecting news from the government as to how we can expect the days preceding Christmas to evolve. This is a time of waiting in the knowledge that we may have to exercise the virtue of patience, especially if we are still strongly curtailed as to what we may and may not do.
It is not easy to be patient as I myself experienced recently while out shopping. I was next in the queue in a supermarket in the city centre and to be honest was not really in a hurry. There was no movement up ahead because a little elderly lady was chatting to the woman at the till and was going nowhere even though her groceries had been paid for and packed. Becoming more and more irritated, I watched her fixedly in the hope that this might dislodge her, but nothing doing. Then I did that familiar thing frustrated shoppers often resort to, I glanced at the person behind me in an effort to gain their support by an empathetic raising of the eye brows. Nothing doing there either – they looked away!
Suddenly the woman at the till called me to come over while still continuing the conversation. As I started to unpack my basket the lady was saying we have to live in hope and the cashier replied that we did even though it was hard for people living alone as this elderly lady had explained she was. The latter smiled at me and I suddenly realised, with a pang that this conversation with the cashier might be the only one she would have that day. I started chatting to her then. By the time I left I was happy to see that the woman I had wanted to hurry along had a smile on her face. The example of the cashier’s patience and friendly manner was a lesson in Christian living.
“There is one thing that gives radiance to everything. It is the idea of something around the corner.”
(G. K. Chesterton)
“Patience is power; with time and patience, the mulberry leaf becomes silk.”
Written By Marie – Therese Cryan