As the Hallmark movie channel announced 40 new Christmas movies for their 2019 schedule, it occurred to me that few events get the expectation and hype that Christmas does. Christmas has come to represent the culmination of the year in an extended season of beauty, feasting, generosity, friendship, and joy. We plan for traditions to be repeated, bringing all the perfection of Christmases past into today’s edition.
What does one do when their hopes and dreams get shattered? What should one do to move forward from disappointment on to new hopes?
These were the questions I asked myself when I heard about a disappointing setback. A friend of mine and her family were going to team up with us on some of our volunteer projects. I was very much looking forward to it, but in the end, much to my dismay, it didn’t work out.
It’s understandable to look at what’s ahead with some trepidation. Maybe as you look back you see the struggles, uncertainty, and perhaps even setbacks that have shaken your life. Sorrows and disappointments that were pretty overwhelming may still weigh on your heart. That can make the future seem intimidating.
Keep your eyes on Me no matter what you face. The skies may be dark at times, the winds may blow, the waters may be deep and murky, and the waves may crash all around you. There may be no apparent way of escape. But I am your escape. I am the sunshine that chases away the dark clouds. My voice will still the tumultuous waves. My rays of sunlight will make the waters clear so that you can see the wondrous coral and all of the splendor that lies under the surface of the ocean of life.
The Bible lets us know that we can expect to go through some difficult times while we’re on this earth.1 The good news is that it also promises that we won’t have to go through them alone. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”2 “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken.”3
He’s a tall, tanned, lanky fellow in his mid-sixties—older than most of the other vendors at the fruit and vegetable market. He invariably greets his customers with a radiant smile.
One hot July morning when I approached his stall, I was surprised to see that he was wearing a thick brace around his neck. It stretched from the tip of his chin to his shoulders, and although he did not complain, his eyes betrayed his discomfort. He explained that he’d had an automobile accident and was recovering from an operation.
Most people understand hope as wishful thinking, as in I hope something will happen. But this is not what the Bible means by hope. In the Bible, hope is used in the sense of “joyful and confident expectation.”1
In the tempestuous, stormy moments of our lives, we often focus so intently on finding a way of escape or rescue that we altogether forget about the most reliable and true source of shelter and refuge.
Last night, sleep seemed to totally elude me. I had been facing a low moment of discouragement, doubt, and frustration. I was restless in both mind and body. It was all I could do to prevent my thoughts from going places they ought not to go.
He looked so sad when I first saw him. He was quite a few years older than I, but like I did during my first days in that impersonal hospital ward, he felt scared and worried.
My bed was on the other side of the room, but I gave him a reassuring smile.
“It will be all right.”
There is an old fable about two neighbors who planted similar orchards. One watered his plants every day, but the other, only every few days. When the dry season came, the trees of the first farmer withered, but the trees of the second kept growing steadily. Since these trees hadn’t been watered so often, their roots had grown downward to find the underground water tables.