In the past week I have seen three programs that mentioned the story of Pandora. I think we all remember the story of the young woman entrusted with a box and warned not to open it. And how she did open it, and released all manner of evils and unhappiness upon the earth. But if you're like me, you've forgotten the most important part of the story. Pandora heard a little scratching noise inside the box, and when she looked inside, she found a small winged creature in one corner. It was Hope. All was not lost because Hope was also released into the world and it has remained with us ever since.
Hope is also one of the four Advent candles we light in our church. Hope sustains us as we wait for the Christ Child. No matter how awful things seem, no matter how desperate and depraved the situation, we can always live with the hope that things will be better. And as Christians we can live with the certainty that God is in control, and wants only the best for us.
It seems as if the world today is on the brink of chaos. Racial relations here in the U.S. appear to be at a new low. Terrorism seems to be everywhere. People in some parts of the world are starving to death while others are dying from the effects of obesity. Floods are inundating some areas while others are suffering from years of drought. Children are dying of preventable diseases for lack of vaccinations. Where is the hope, we ask? Where is God in all this?
The same place He was when Christ came into the world. Times were equally bleak. Israel had been conquered by a series of occupying forces – the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Seleucids, the Ptolemies, and most notably, the Romans. The Pax Romana. (Roman Peace) came at a high cost – heavy taxes, the presence of Roman troops, being governed by Roman officials, poverty, unrest, distrust.
I'm sure people felt just as hopeless then as many do now. But we mustn't abandon Hope, just as Hope doesn't abandon us. Things were very bleak when God sent Jesus into the world. The Israelites were at the breaking point when God sent Moses to release them. The Hebrews were at the point of death when God used Esther to secure their safety. And today we have Jesus to secure us. This time of Advent is a time to put aside the bad habits and bad attitudes that are weighing us down.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
Even illness and disability can steal our peace of mind and turn us away from Jesus. I know. But if we will turn ourselves back to the source of life and Hope we will find comfort. And if we share our struggle with other believers we will find that we are not alone. Praise God!
Dear Father God, As we wait for the birth of your Son, Jesus Christ, help us to find Hope, and to trust that all is well and will continue to be well. Remind us that we are your hands and feet, and enable us to seek and do Your will. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.