At the end of a year, I’m grateful for evergreens. Hardy enough to withstand winter, bold enough to engender hope of the Spring that will follow.
These tough tamarind bushes decorate the Aldwick seafront, breaking the salty sea winds and softening stark outlines. Backlit by the rising sun, they sparkle like natural Christmas tree decorations! They don’t just survive, they flourish despite their hostile surroundings.
We’ve all been through another difficult year of restriction and anxiety.
Shaken from our comforting illusion that we have everything under control, we have reacted in ways that might range from despair to outrage; our core values have been knocked sideways. Even our faith has taken a knock as we have tried to make sense of the senseless, or watched helplessly as those we cherish have struggled through tough times. Perhaps we have questioned the “authorities” or “experts,” or wrestled with the multiple theories and deluge of Google-fed sensationalism and half-truths.
Truly, a winter of discontent.
But there are still evergreens giving hope!
History shows that plagues have happened before- and we have survived them. Medical science has made enormous strides even within the last twenty years. Political extremism may last for a season, but the pendulum swings back… perhaps next year we might begin to see politicians of compassion and principle taking back the reins from the sharp-toothed sloganising soundbiters. Is that too much to hope?
God has not changed. Christmas has reminded us that God has become personally involved in the rollercoaster of human experience. That is the BEST antidote to fear!
A long time ago, the prophets shared God’s promise that beyond troubles there is hope. For example, in a time of Exile, Ezekiel told us that because God is involved and He will succeed, a river of life will come from the Lord’s presence: Ezekiel 47:12 “By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.”
A very similar picture is given in John’s “Revelation” (Ch 22 v1-5): “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”
Faith in Christ is evergreen. Trusting in His love and truth, we will survive the cruel winter- and there will be a welcome Spring of renewed hope and grace.
May that grace help us to flourish in 2022- and beyond.