I have been reading a lot of World War II fiction lately. One thing that grips me is the difference between those who had hope and those who did not.
I am also struck by the similarities between those caught up in the depths of that war and those of us who live in relative ease and freedom here in the United States today. Our suffering may be different, but hope, or the lack thereof, still greatly determines how we respond to life. The hope that aided people like Corrie Ten Boom and many others in the horror of German concentration and death camps is the same hope that strengthens us as we face an uncertain future of health care and parental rights, among other things.
So, if we have the same hope that helped souls survive death camps, why do we feel so defeated sometimes? Probably because we are too short-sighted.
Recently I read 1 Peter 1, and I was overwhelmed by how much I cling to immediate answers to prayer. I want to see my circumstances improve right now. I want freedom. I want perfection. What if, instead, my world falls apart completely? What if I lose the political, earthly freedom I possess and find myself torn from everything, and possibly even everyone, dear to me? If my hope is bound up in the satisfaction of my immediate needs, then it will not last long.
My hope must instead look like this:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:3-8
I do not desire persecution, suffering, or simply a falling apart of my own life. But I do desire to take full possession of the eternal hope of which Peter wrote. My preference is to do it when surrounded by provision, but sometimes God allows provision, belongings, and even beloveds to be taken from us even as He is comforting us with the reminder that our hope can only be in the eternal.
As the Advent season begins, we will hear much about the hope Christ brought into this world. May we cling to this hope now and through the year to come. May we raise our children in this hope. And when the dark days come, for they certainly will, may we still be able to rejoice because we cling so firmly to this hope that no amount of loss or suffering can pull it from us.