This year, many of the things we have always taken for granted – Little League games, weddings, dinners out, and travel – were stripped away. We lost so much. COVID-19 derailed our plans and undermined important events, experiences, and relationships that give meaning to our lives. And because there is no timetable for cultural recovery, it has left many of us feeling hopeless. When will things get better? When will normal life return?
As Christians, we know our ultimate hope rests in the person and work of Jesus. Jesus secures our future and Jesus will bring us fully into God’s new creation. But can Jesus also be a source of hope for our lives now?
Renowned Christian Philosopher and Thought Leader, Dallas Willard once told a pastor who was facing a difficult season, “This is the moment when you can learn more deeply about God’s sufficiency.” We all get to test that same premise in this season.
The Psalmist declared: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me…You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23; NAS).
Is this just ancient poetry or does it describe the nature of reality? Does God still provide for us? Are we safe with Him? Does He walk us through every threat? Does He lead us into places of abundance? Does His love and goodness follow us throughout our lives? We have every reason to believe these declarations and assurances today, even in the midst of a pandemic. We can put our hope in the promises and sufficiency of God for us in this very season.
During the Advent season, we celebrate the birth of Christ, the incarnation when God became one of us. Prior to that birth, an angel of the Lord told Joseph in a dream that he should name Mary’s child “Emmanuel, which means, ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:23).
Emmanuel is with us right now in our loss, fear, disruption, and COVID-19 world. He is sufficient. He is our good shepherd. We can put our hope in Him.