Listen to this episode of the Focus with Marlene Podcast
For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
—John 3:16, NIV
This has been a difficult year with the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns, the inability to meet with each other, give hugs, and share concerns of the day.
We have learned to use more technology to operate our businesses and hold group meetings. We have driven up to our churches and stayed in our cars to listen to our pastors speak or we have listened to sermons on YouTube.
We have had groceries delivered and become familiar with masks. We have prayed and reached out to each other in the safest way possible.
It has been a surreal world – one in which we struggle to create a sense of normalcy. We are even learning how to sing as a choral group, rehearsing without gathering together in a group.
We have watched protests that turn into riots, people bullied and killed, businesses destroyed. The focus seems to constantly be on what we hate and if we destroy enough, we will be given what we want. We have become so polarized in our views; we no longer see the issues that need to be worked on.
But hate destroys.
Staying in that space of hate, we miss the most important healing component we have for our lives: love. True love is the only weapon against the assault of hate.
Without love, we are lost.
Without love there is no hope for us as a people on this earth.
It’s a time for humility and honesty and openness. It’s a time to recognize as never before our need for God, His forgiveness, His grace, His love and His direction.
“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
—Philippians 4:8, NLT
Love – Hope – Peace
We speak to these themes each Christmas with our Christmas cards and music. Peace is usually thought of as a hopeful outcome of physical battlefields between countries or the end of bitter conflict between couples. We view hope as something we want but have become jaded about.
And love: well, we have been rejected and hurt too many times to trust or love anyone anymore.
Love, hope, and peace begin in our hearts.
It cannot start anywhere else. But how are we to love that person who has taken advantage of us, hurt us, used us and abused us? We don’t get that ability from our culture or love songs or peace rallies. A love that can bring hope and peace to our hearts starts with God and that little baby in the manager. That is, after all, what agnostics and atheists fear above all else – that there might be truth to the Christmas story.
A love that risks all – embraces all – gives all – endures all. That is what we received when a helpless, vulnerable baby boy was born so many years ago.
What parent wouldn’t willingly sacrifice their own life for that of their child? God, our heavenly Father, demonstrated that when He gave His only Son to die for us so we might live.
As we pray for each other and families whose lives have been turned upside down and inside out through riots, separation and rejection, we also pray for ourselves – for forgiveness, understanding, respect of differences – and peaceful ways to reconcile those differences. All our problems will not be resolved. But we choose how we will respond to each of them.
Love, hope and peace are only hollow words unless they are followed by positive personal action.
If you have a story of hope and endurance and faith that you would like to share with others, please let me know so we can include it in an upcoming blog post.