Over the last couple of years it seems we as Christians have lost sight of one of the very basic tenants of our faith:
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)
We have all lived through a very disruptive time in our world. The circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus were no less disruptive. Mary, pregnant with Jesus, and Joseph were made to travel to Bethlehem for the Census of Quirinius. Everyone in Judea was required to return to the place of their birth, or in Mary and Joseph’s case, to Joseph’s place of birth.
Mary had already heard from an angel that she would be carrying the very Son of God, but I can imagine her losing hope as they went from inn to inn looking for a place to stay. I imagine Joseph trying desperately to maintain hope as it became clear that the offer of sleeping in a barn would be the only offer of lodging they received.
Imagine the faith that Joseph and Mary had to have in things unseen that night when Mary went into labor among the barn animals. Mary didn’t pitch a fit that no one was making the wealthy inn keepers open their doors to her, nor did Joseph curse the Roman government for making his pregnant wife travel by donkey just for a census.
Where does this kind of hope come from? A hope that transcends our creature comforts, our personal desires, and our autonomy of action. It comes from a deep and abiding relationship with God.
What Joseph and Mary decided was that despite the chaos around them they would maintain hope that God was in control, even when it didn’t appear as if he was. They modeled what Jesus would teach many years later:
“Jesus said to them, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they marveled at him.” – Mark 12:17 (ESV)
If we want to win the War on Hope, we must place our faith in things unseen, let the world marvel at us.