People are in distress. They feel oppressed, forgotten, ignored, abused, hurt, and mistreated. People are waiting for a hope that has been promised to them for generations. They wait, but they see no signs of hope. They suffer, but see no signs of change. The climate of the country feels tense. The arrival of hope in the midst of turmoil seems unlikely.
If hope exists, then why does suffering increase? What benefit does hoping for hope provide for this broken world?
This is the story of Christmas. This is the state of Israel. These are the thoughts of God’s people.
But then one day, through a virgin named Mary, Hope was born. Hope lived 33 sinless years. Hope died unjustly on a wooden cross. Hope was resurrected from the dead three days after his death. Hope’s name was Jesus. Israel has not been the same since the hope they’ve waited for, Jesus, entered human history.
Two thousand years later, people are still in distress. They feel oppressed, forgotten, ignored, abused, hurt, and mistreated. People are waiting for a hope that’s been promised to them. They wait, but they see no signs of hope. They suffer, but see no signs of change. The climate of the world feels tense. The arrival of hope in the midst of turmoil seems unlikely.
If hope exists, if hope is alive, then why does suffering increase? What benefit does hoping for hope provide for this broken world?
This is the story of our current age. This is the state of the world we live in. These are the thoughts of the people around you.
But doesn’t the parallel between these two situations seem ironic? Two thousand years ago, the people of Israel waited with anticipation for their Savior to arrive. The anxiety they lived with was heightened by the unknown arrival of the awaited Messiah. Today, we live with the knowledge of Jesus’ resurrection and of his Spirit being with us, right? Why is it that the reality of our anxiety seems so similar, yet the reality of God’s presence with us has changed so drastically?
Might it be true of followers of Jesus today that we live in the midst of our anxiety and suffering, as if we do not serve a living Jesus? Might it be true of us that we live in the midst of our anxiety and suffering, as if we do not have God’s Spirit residing in us? If Jesus is the Hope of Glory (Colossians 1:27), and Jesus is Emmanuel, God with Us (Matthew 1:23), then isn’t the Hope of Glory also with us during times of suffering?
As I reflect on this, I can’t help but think that maybe it is true of me that when I feel the pressure and anxiety of my life, when I witness and see the oppression and brokenness in the world around me, maybe I source my hope from someone that is not Emmanuel. I can’t help but think that maybe, the questioning of hope in the midst of brokenness doesn’t actually come from a lack of hope’s presence but from a dangerous outsourcing of hope.
If the Bible is true, then hope should exist among us. If the Bible is true, then communities that are suffering from racism around the country should find that hope is alive in their local churches. If the Bible is true, then campuses that are suffering from death threats and depression should find that hope is alive in their local campus ministries. If the Bible is true, then my friends who suffer from a range of abuse and hurt should find that that hope is alive within me. If the Bible is true, then when I experience suffering and brokenness, I should find that hope is alive in me, and in others around me.
What if we decided to give Jesus our pain and anxiety rather than trying to carry it ourselves? What if we stopped to listen to others around us who are broken and hurt? What if we stood to advocate for justice when we saw injustice happening? What if we chose to love our neighbors, even when loving looks sacrificial?
What would happen if we began to reflect on the hope that we emphatically declare that we believe? How would that change our campuses, communities, and churches? Jesus responded to the brokenness and suffering of the world 2,000 years ago by coming into the world he created to provide a hope that the world has never seen. What if Jesus actually wanted to do that again, through us?
Timothy Holmes is an InterVarsity campus staff member at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. He is a rapper and poet as well as an alumnus of The City College of New York, where he double-majored in media communications and English.