This article appeared in the “Marathon Mercury” on Dec. 1st, 2020.
It’s been a scary week. With news of a confirmed COVID-19 case in Marathon, a continued spike of cases in Thunder Bay, and countless other newsbytes that have us furrowing our brows. Let me tell you, I have not been feeling very optimistic recently. Yet, this week in the church calendar we are celebrating “Hope”.
This has me worried. Worried that we may feel obligated to feel “hopeful”! That we may rush to hopeful and ignore an important step. If we are too quick to turn to gratitude, too quick to turn to the silver-lining, too quick to seek out hope, I fear we’ll steamroll right over our real feelings.
Now, most folks don’t relish feeling sad, or anxious, or angry. Even so, it is an essential part of how God created us. All those feelings we have are God-given; our Maker made us living, breathing and feeling. Without them we rush towards a shallow kind of hope that tells us to keep our chins up because sunny days are ahead. It is a hope that cannot carry us through the hard times, because it is built on a weak foundation.
This Advent, I am waiting on hope. Waiting for a hope that can take stock of all the sorrow, and still find in itself that spark of desire for a better world. To do that, I have to first let myself feel; to mourn. This spark of hope is the kind that calls us to generations-long struggles for justice. It tells us this is still a world worth raising children in. It is the spark that urges us to plant trees whose shade we will never feel.
So, this Advent season, I am waiting on hope. Not rushing towards it, but anticipating it will appear. Expecting it’s arrival will come after I’ve shared my worries, cried in sadness and lashed out at God in my anger. Believing, all the while, it will be a hope worth waiting for; one forged in hard times, a strong foundation on which I can make my home. An uncomfortable, but worthwhile task. May it be so.