“Fear beats hope,” said the reporter on the radio. These words jumped out at me as I listened to the news. A voice inside me was saying, “That’s just wrong! Hope’s got to win.”
It seems that fear and hope are in a never-ending struggle these days—in our nations, in our world, and inside of me. I want so deeply to have hope, to trust that God is in charge. I want to feel confident that everything will be all right, that we will figure out how to live gently and compassionately in the world together. I want to live in hope, to take off my lenses of fear, despair, and negativity that color the way I see people and situations around me.
And, especially, during this time of year I want to embrace the hope brought by the gift of a tiny baby—God’s hope for the world in the form of a child. As followers of this child, Jesus, we affirm that hope beats fear (and sadness, despair, and loneliness).
Hope is a central theme during these days leading up to Christmas. In the Christmas readings, angels bring the message, “Fear not!” to Mary, to Joseph, and to shepherds watching their flocks. May God’s Spirit speak through these stories to bring assurance of God’s presence with you, no matter what you might be going through.
This season of the year can be difficult for many. Holiday gatherings remind us of loss, broken relationships, shattered dreams. We feel sad and lonely at a time when it seems that everyone around us is happy and fulfilled. The message for us is the same. God says to each of us, “Fear not! You are not alone. I am with you. You are my beloved child, and I love you. Give to me your fears, your sadness, your despair, your loneliness, and rest in me. I love you. You are mine.”
I pray God’s continued blessings upon you and your community during this season of light and hope.
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Beth A. Richardson serves as the director of prayer and worship life and Dean of The Upper Room Chapel.
Adapted from Alive Now, November/December 2011. Copyright © 2011 The Upper Room.