It was the first time in months that I saw a medical doctor smiling on TV while talking about the corona virus. The news had just broken that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine may be 90% effective. In a world desperate to bring the deadly outbreak under control, this was “hope in a bottle,” as the doctor put it. And then today, just as I was about to write this devotion, another company, Moderna, reported that their vaccine, at 94%, had been tested as even more effective.
It has been difficult to remain hopeful the past eight months living through this pandemic, and especially now with increased cases and deaths across the country. These medical breakthroughs give us a sign of hope. Yet how else can we continue to stay hopeful in these coming dark winter months?
As people of faith we are blessed with a deep reservoir of resources to draw upon to give us hope. With the coming season of Advent, hope is a prominent theme. Each week we light one more candle on our wreaths to deepen our hope in the coming of Christ, the Light of the world. We will also hear hopeful words of Scripture from Isaiah, first spoken to the Israelites in exile, “Comfort, O comfort my people,” he says, reassuring them that “those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:1,31). The prophet’s encouraging words to a beleaguered nation led Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks to call him “the poet laureate of hope.”
Centuries later that message of hope continues to be communicated in the Bible through others like the author of Hebrews who calls Christians to persevere in hard times.
“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). And it is the apostle Paul who states clearly where our hope lies when he looks forward to the coming of the Lord. “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).
Along with passages from the Bible, we also find hope in beloved hymns of the church, such as this one: “O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come.”
In addition, there are signs of hope that can spring up unexpectedly in everyday life.
I was talking with a member on the phone recently when she interrupted our conversation. While we were speaking she was looking out her window, her “dirty window,” she confessed, when suddenly she saw a bird with its wings outspread. It was a dove, right in front of her. She took it as a sign of peace and hope. I was reminded of the beginning of a poem by Emily Dickenson who writes,
Where do you find hope in what sometimes feels like a hopeless time? I encourage you to think about the Scripture verses, the hymns, the poetry, the everyday signs and stories that give you hope. And then to share those with others so that as Paul wrote “….we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” (Romans 1:12). I share with you the following “Blessing of Hope” that it might encourage you as it encourages me.