Is it something desirable, like the latest iPhone or a Kindle? Or is it something important, like a new job or to meet someone wonderful?
Last year, some of us might have given one of those answers if we were asked this question. This year, I’m sure, what many of us really want is . . . hope.
Hope that a vaccine will soon be found, so that we need no longer fear being infected.
Hope that Phase 3 will kick in, so that we can meet more friends outside.
Hope that the economy will improve, and we will not have to worry about losing or finding a new job.
Hope that this Covid-19 pandemic will end.
Hope that life can finally return to normal.
Will all this really happen? I’m really wishing they will . . . but to be honest, I’m not so sure. Part of me really hopes things will get better, and part of me fears that we may have to live with Covid-19 for many months or even years.
Will this storm never end? How can we keep going through this dark night when we don’t know if we will ever see daybreak?
When I asked a friend who was struggling on many fronts, how he managed to keep his head above water, he replied simply: “I just have to look to God . . . what else do I have?”
In such trying times, the only source of true comfort and hope we have is God.
What does it mean to place our hope in God? Often, when we use the word “I hope” in everyday speech, what we probably mean is, “I wish for something to happen, and I look forward to its possibility.”
There is no guarantee, however, that this thing will happen. This “hope” comes from our own feelings of desire and expectation.
In contrast, the “hope” that God gives us is not about what we wish will happen. It is an assurance that something good will happen.
Psalm 13 captures so well both our cry for God’s help in our storm, and the absolute certainty of His deliverance.
In his seemingly never-ending desperation, David cries out to God: “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” (Psalm 13:1–2).
Then he leans on the God he knows will never fail him:
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
David is able to trust in God completely because he remembers how God has delivered him in the past. And he also knows that the good and loving God is sovereign and powerful over everything on earth.
While God may allow bad things like Covid-19 to happen, and difficult times to last for a while, He will never leave us or abandon us. He will surely deliver us, in His time and in His way.
How do we know this? Because this power is the same power that raised Jesus Christ from death to life. This promise is the same promise that we are saved from eternal death by His Son, and that we will receive everlasting life.
As Paul prays in Ephesians 1:18–23, may the eyes of our hearts be opened, so that we may know the hope to which God has called us—the assurance of a glorious inheritance. For the power He offers us “is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms”.
This Christmas, even as we celebrate the birth of Jesus in rather muted circumstances, let us remember what our belief and trust in Him can mean to us not just for eternity, but also in our daily lives. If we believe that we are saved through our Lord and Saviour, then we can also trust in God’s power and promise to deliver us through this Covid-19 storm.
In this dark night, we know that the morning will come soon. May this sure hope sustains us as we anchor our faith in God.
One of my favourite hymns is Great Is Thy Faithfulness, especially the first stanza and chorus. How about singing it in your heart with me?
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!