As we draw near to the end of a challenging year, Tearfund’s Gideon Heugh reflects on what it means to be a people of hope when hope can seem hard to find.
Hope can hurt. Many of us will bear its wounds at some point in our lives.
You long for something to happen. You hope with all your strength that it will. You choose to believe, in spite of the facts. You pray and you fast and you wage every kind of spiritual warfare… and then things don’t work out.
And then it happens again. And again.
What do we do with that? How are we meant to respond?
When the ground gives way
When lockdown first began in the UK, despite the uncertainty, there were glimmers of light we could cling to. Though the ground beneath us seemed to be giving way, many of us saw the looming darkness as an opportunity for the church to shine brightly. We saw a chance for society to reassess what was important. Lockdown would put the brakes on a culture that seemed to be hurtling out of control into the future.
Then the death toll started to climb. And continued to climb. And lockdown went on and on and on. It became harder to stay optimistic.
But eventually, towards the end of the summer, the restrictions began to ease. We drew closer to some sense of normality. People dared to hope again. We dreamt of a Christmas with family and friends gathered around the table.
Now? It feels as though we’re heading back to where we started: new lockdowns, rising death rates and more uncertainty. Winter is approaching in the UK and the nights are drawing in, adding to a sense of weariness. When will all of this end?
And of course, the coronavirus pandemic is just one of several global crises that we are facing. Not to mention whatever personal challenges we may be dealing with. All of these things will be weighing heavily on us, whether consciously or not.