General Superintendent Greetings

HOPE THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE

Circuit Breaker, Heightened Alert or Stabilization Phase – whatever name it’s called, the question at the top of people’s minds is “when will they see the light at the end of the tunnel”? The world has been battling COVID-19 for almost two years. It’s been quite a long dance back and forth with the virus. Resources are drained. Relationships are strained.

We wish for a public announcement to say “Today, COVID-19 is no more a pandemic”! Some 2,000 years ago, a similar proclamation was made in the town of Bethlehem. In Luke 2:11, an angel declared, “Today…a Savior has been born to you.”

How precious those words were after 400 years of being in captivity, and under the rule of Greeks, Egyptians and Romans. The Israelites were probably thinking “is there an end to our suffering”, “Is there hope available for us”?

These are the same questions we ask today as we approach the end of another year. As we make another turn into a new year, will there be an end to COVID-19? Is there hope available for us to hold on to?

Christmas is a reminder that HOPE came and invaded darkness.

Christmas is a reminder that HOPE came and invaded darkness.

Luke 1:5 tells us “in the days of Herod” and Luke 2:1 records that it was in the “days (of) Caesar Augustus” that a Savior, a Messiah has arrived! Hope has come!

In the days of Heightened Alerts and whatever phases, Jesus is here with us. He’s our anchor and peace in stormy seas. He’s our shelter and stronghold.

A Difference in Our View

When we have hope, we have faith. Hebrew 11:1 tells us that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”.

In 2 Chronicles 32, the Assyrian army was about to come for Jerusalem. The men were overwhelmed and outnumbered. There was no way they could overcome the Assyrians. Fear paralyzed them. But King Hezekiah reminded them in verses 7 and 8, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged…for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles”. And true enough, God fought the battle for them and annihilated the Assyrian army.

In 2 Kings 6:14-17, when an army of horses and chariots surrounded the city and the servant panicked, Elisha prayed for his servant to see that “those who are with us are more than those who are with them”. And when he looked, he “saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha”.

What do you see? As you reflect upon the many things that have happened in 2021, do you see God’s hand of protection? Do you see His armies surrounding you, fighting for you, and defending you?

A Difference in our Response

There are two responses in 2 Chronicles 32. The first is the response of being an encourager, just like King Hezekiah who encouraged his men. Sometimes people do lose sight of the hope we have in Christ. Sometimes people forget the goodness of God. But we can be an encourager who will bring confidence to people.

Hebrews 10:24-25 reminds us to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another”.

Your response to be present in church and in your small groups encourages and brings confidence to people. Don’t let fear ring you in from reaching out!

Don’t let fear ring you in from reaching out!

The other response is a response of confidence in the Lord. After King Hezekiah’s encouragement, “the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said”. Even when the enemy continued to call out to them “to terrify them and make them afraid in order to capture the city” in verse 18, they did not give ear to the enemy, but instead took it to the Lord in prayer.

Hebrews 10:23 tells us “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful”. Confidence is holding on to the hope we profess! A response of confidence is a response of declaration.

In 2 Kings 6:18 “As the enemy came down toward him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this army with blindness”. So he struck them with blindness, as Elisha had asked.

When you know who fights your battles, you will respond with courage, boldness, and authority. You won’t let fear cripple your faith. You won’t be like a headless chicken running amok!

So even when the year comes to an end, and COVID-19 doesn’t seem to end, let’s remember that hope came in the times of Herod and Caesar. Hope is available in the darkness of nights.

May the hope of Christmas make a difference in your view and your response as you cross over into the year 2022.

Have a Blessed Christmas!