My nephew Connor is the first grandchild on both sides of his family. We’ve all delighted in doting on him, sending cute onesies for each holiday, handmade hats for the winter, and enough bath toys to sink a ship. He’s a pandemic baby, born in hard and frightening times. His parents’ decisions about socialization and in-home guests seem particularly weighty. The conversations around him are burdened by additional stressors. I don’t have other nephews to compare his first year to, but the possibilities for Connor’s future and the future of our world seem particularly uncertain right now.
In today’s passage, God’s people are in dread of two kings (v. 16).
Will there be war? Will their people survive? Will they starve in the meantime? God sees the uncertainty weighing on them and gives these weary mortals a sign in the form of a baby: “Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son” (v. 14). Once they are looking at this new life, God provides a timeline for their troubles, saying, “before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted” (v. 16). The dangerous and uncertain situation will be settled. The threat will leave the area. And God’s people will have only a few years to wait.
Wars and rumors of wars are often the backdrop of our days. It would be extraordinary to know how long we must endure our most difficult times—how many days, months, or years. Yet even without such timelines, babies are still being born, plans reach fruition, and dreams come true. Take hope that even when our dreams diminish or die, new life springs up around us, indicating that God has not yet finished working in the world. And we are not to be finished either.
Why do we consider Christmas a season of hope? How is it hopeful to you?
Thank you, God, for bringing new things into the world and into our lives. Help us to see possibilities where we feel stuck, and to trust in your hope throughout the darkest times. Amen.