Advent Reflection: Holding onto Hope

I try very hard to feel hopeful about America in spite of our racial division. I am a grandmother, after all. I want a safe and prosperous country for my grandchildren.

             But since November 2016, I have been more discouraged than hopeful. Yes, the economy is thriving, but bigotry is thriving too. Last month, the FBI reported a rise in hate crimes for the third straight year. I worry that the nationalism our president promotes divides us and feeds our fears.

            My despair about this reached a new low in October after a gunman murdered Jewish worshippers in Pittsburgh. That same week, a separate gunman shot and killed two black grandparents at a grocery store in Kentucky.

When these things happen, I cry, and sometimes I rant on Twitter. Other times, I am genuinely afraid, like when I encounter people with Confederate flags on their clothing and trucks. I have lived in Virginia for 35 years and Confederate flags are a staple in this region, but my fear is new. It’s a product of the Trump era.

I know God wants to calm my inner turmoil, so I often turn toPsalm 71. The entire psalm is filled with references to God’s care throughout a lifetime. Verse 14 reads:

As for me, I will always have hope.

            One time when I read those words, I thought about my great-great grandmothers. Without hope, they could never have survived as they toiled over cotton; as their men were hanged; as their children were sold. I know these women prayed. Maybe they even prayed for me to grow up in a safe and prosperous nation.

            If they had that kind of hope, I most certainly can, too. Even though the president demonizes immigrants and degrades black leaders, I pray for him—and for those whose actions seem to be inspired by his rhetoric. I pray they’ll give up their Nazi salutes and fold up their lost-cause flags. I pray they’ll stop planting seeds of hatred and sow seeds of love instead.

Because God allows the sun to shine on everyone, I have hope for even the most hateful people.

             For the hateful to see the error of their way, more of God’s people must become racial reconcilers. We hold the prolife banner, and we say that every human being has worth. Our Savior showed us how to affirm the Samaritan, and He calls us to welcome the stranger. He was born to commission us for this work.

            Unfortunately, many Christians have a hard time talking about race. This leaves a void in the church for those like me whose souls are crushed by the weight of our president’s words. Even worse, we hear unbelievers say evangelicals care more about the economy than about loving people.

            I know this isn’t true. But it may be true that we have allowed our political allegiance to be the bushel that hides our light of love, the very light our nation and our president so desperately need. 

            It’s hard to hold onto hope sometimes, but my grandchildren need me to keep on toiling. And I will, in Jesus’ name.

Psalm 71

In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
    let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
    turn your ear to me and save me.
Be my rock of refuge,
    to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
    for you are my rock and my fortress.
Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
    from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.

For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord,
    my confidence since my youth.
From birth I have relied on you;
    you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
    I will ever praise you.
I have become a sign to many;
    you are my strong refuge.
My mouth is filled with your praise,
    declaring your splendor all day long.

Do not cast me away when I am old;
    do not forsake me when my strength is gone.
10 For my enemies speak against me;
    those who wait to kill me conspire together.
11 They say, “God has forsaken him;
    pursue him and seize him,
    for no one will rescue him.”
12 Do not be far from me, my God;
    come quickly, God, to help me.
13 May my accusers perish in shame;
    may those who want to harm me
    be covered with scorn and disgrace.

14 As for me, I will always have hope;
    I will praise you more and more.

15 My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,
    of your saving acts all day long—
    though I know not how to relate them all.
16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord;
    I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.
17 Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
    and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
18 Even when I am old and gray,
    do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
    your mighty acts to all who are to come.

19 Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
    you who have done great things.
    Who is like you, God?
20 Though you have made me see troubles,
    many and bitter,
    you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
    you will again bring me up.
21 You will increase my honor
    and comfort me once more.

22 I will praise you with the harp
    for your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
    Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy
    when I sing praise to you—
    I whom you have delivered.
24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
    all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
    have been put to shame and confusion.

7 thoughts on “Advent Reflection: Holding onto Hope

  1. Thank you, Mary. Your commentaries (both on blog and World and Everything In it) are thoughtful and challenging. Blessings this Advent season.

    Like

    1. Valerie, I appreciate your comment very much. It inspires me to continue my quest in promoting racial understanding. May God’s peace abound to you and our nation this Christmas.

      Like

  2. Thank you Mary! You are reminding me to keep praying for our country! “Lord bring healing to our country. Heal our land. Help us as Christians to take our positions on the wall, standing in the gap for our nation”.

    Like

  3. Speaking as someone who does not identify as Christian, when we see evangelicals and other self described Christians supporting policies that don’t care for the poor or sick, policies that throw children in cages or teargas them at the border, supporting a man who at best is vulgar and cruel, it does appear that they don’t actually care for people or the values that Jesus laid out, but money and power. I know that you are not among these, but I fear you are far outnumbered by them.

    Like

    1. Becky, thank you for your comment. I understand your perspective. I do write in this way to help fellow Christians think about the message we send if we don’t speak out against what any administration is doing to harm people in the name of policy, whether conservative or liberal policy. Each of us can also play a role in securing the safety of those in our own sphere, in spite of what may be happening nationally. Let’s keep trying.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s