Living in hope

One year ago the world was gripped by the story of 33 Chilean miners trapped 700 meters, the length of seven football fields laid end to end, underground. They were there for 69 days and for the first 17 days they had no idea whether the world above knew where they were exactly and whether they were alive. Perhaps efforts had been made to find them for some days but then their would-be rescuers gave up. We can only dimly feel what it must have been like to see hope ebb away after there was no co

Then suddenly they heard the sound of drilling and a small hole appeared above them. How they danced for joy! They were found, though they had to wait another 52 days for a shaft to be drilled big enough for them to be lifted to the surface in a capsule.

As so often, real life dramas mirror exactly our own life journey. The final chapters of Isaiah announce the “consolation of Israel”. “Speak to the heart of Jerusalem that her time of service is over” (Chap.40). “Prepare a way for the Lord … Shout with a loud voice … ‘Here is your God.’” These and similar readings fill the days before Christmas. The Jews had suffered so much through the destruction of their city and country and their deportation to Babylon. They were without hope, lost and abandoned. And then suddenly there comes the good news (Mark 1:1). Your days of being trapped are over. Your God will lift you to freedom.

Christmas can be marked by parties and celebrations – for those who can afford them. But to really celebrate Christmas and what it means we have to go, in our imagination, deep down into that pit 700 meters below the surface. There we reflect on what it is like to live without hope. Could I do it? We could go further and see the first 17 days as a time when we did not know God. Or if we knew him we saw him as a cruel God, distant and unconcerned. Why does he not hear my prayer? There seems to be nothing to hang on to. People sometimes find themselves in such darkness they despair; they lose hope. As we look around our country these days before Christmas we see much hopelessness; death, illness, poverty, danger, no work and no opportunities.

Jesus came to reveal the Father to us. He is a God of tenderness and compassion, longing to share the “fullness” of life with us. He comes down into the pit to share our life that he may lead us up to share his with him. John’s gospel breathes this simple message throughout. But though we know he is there we don’t yet see him. It is like the 52 days of waiting. We know we will be rescued but we are not there yet. That is our daily life. The great day, which Peter’s second letter chap. 3 speaks of, is still to come. We live in hope but also in intense joy.

Post published in: Opinions & Analysis

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