What a year. We started 2021 with covid uncertainty globally, and 2022 starts much the same. But there is good news also with vaccinations increasing and economic recovery happening in many nations. Personally this was a very difficult year with the death of several friends due to the virus both in India and the USA, and my own fortunately lessening struggle with long covid.
But as I start the new year in just a few hours, it is HOPE and its beloved sister THANKSGIVING that fills my soul. I hope it does yours as well. Hope is not optimism or positive thinking. It is much deeper than that. Often it does not even seem to be built on surrounding circumstances at all. There is an interesting scripture passage in the book of Job in the Old Testament. In the midst of Job’s agonizing trial and struggle dealing with unimaginable losses, he says in chapter 14, verses 7-9: ‘For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. Though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth branches like a young plant.’
When you read the next verses, it is pretty clear Job had more hope for a tree than humankind, including his own future. But that is the interesting thing about hope and thanksgiving: it comes to us often in an indirect way. Focusing on nature, little bland and normal things of life, the laugh of a 2 year old. These ‘particulars’ of life can lead us into the ‘universals’ of hope and joy. The photo with this post, and not sure where I first saw it so couldn’t give credit, shows the amazing hope of a new and fresh life growing from the seeming deadness of an old stump.
What are you hoping for in 2022? I do not go into the new year ‘thinking positive thoughts’ or with optimism. Frankly, with possibilities of new covid variants, climate change events growing, political instability nationally and globally, and so much more, it is hope based in the unchanging love of God that I base my life and trust on. What do you base your life on going into 2022?
This morning I was reading about another kind of tree in the Old Testament, in one of the Psalms. It is in Psalm 52, when the future King David is running around chased by the present King Saul. It is his own season of struggle and pain, where the uncertainty of the future is very real. In verse 8, David writes (and perhaps sings, as many of the Psalms were originally songs) ‘But I am a like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God for ever and ever.’
Here we go again. Starting a year with uncertainty and so many questions perhaps personally or beyond. But there is hope for a tree. And for you.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. Great is His faithfulness.
Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayers starting 2022.