Romans 6:1-11   Kerin Stascinsky     

So what are we going to say? Should we continue sinning so grace will multiply? 2 Absolutely not! All of us died to sin. How can we still live in it? 3 Or don’t you know that all who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4Therefore, we were buried together with him through baptism into his death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too can walk in newness of life. 5 If we were united together in a death like his, we will also be united together in a resurrection like his. 6 This is what we know: the person that we used to be was crucified with him in order to get rid of the corpse that had been controlled by sin. That way we wouldn’t be slaves to sin anymore, 7 because a person who has died has been freed from sin’s power. 8 But if we died with Christ, we have faith that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ has been raised from the dead and he will never die again. Death no longer has power over him. 10 He died to sin once and for all with his death, but he lives for God with his life. 11 In the same way, you also should consider yourselves dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.

Waiting for the Promise to Come. 

A few years ago, I was in line at a Best Buy, waiting patiently to purchase a Christmas gift for my tech-loving husband.  I knew that there was a good chance I would be handed a rain-check, and so I waited.  The teenager working the register was obviously alone in the department; and I watched as customer after customer yelled at him, in person and on the phone simply because he could not answer all their demands immediately.

Because I knew my request might take a bit more time, I didn’t mind as he handled everyone before me. When I got to the front, he apologized to me about the wait, and I smiled, and articulated my request.  I did, indeed, receive a raincheck.

Whenever I try to wrap my mind around hope at Christmas; I think about this incident.  My husband wanted the gaming device.  When he opened a box containing the raincheck on Christmas morning, that was enough.  He did not have it yet, but the promise that it was coming was as real as if the gadget had been wrapped in the box.    In this small, ordinary circumstance, the promise was enough.  I think this is what Hope of resurrection is supposed to be – that firm confidence that the promise is coming, and we just need to wait. 

All too often, I find myself on the death side of the Hope equation.  I start looking at how my prayers are unfulfilled; how my desires are unmet; how I am disappointed that I still have to wait.  I can also convince myself that I’m being altruistic on behalf of another person (i.e. my husband will be disappointed, there is so much injustice and suffering going on in the world) until I become the customer demanding to be served immediately, rather than the one confident that the promise of resurrection will be fulfilled in its time.  I lose patience and get angry about the waiting.  I forget that God’s gifts and fullness of life are certain, and coming, and worth waiting for.

I see friends suffering or suffer myself, and go back and forth between asking God “how long” and accusing Him of being cruel for delaying healing.  It’s when I wrestle with Him in these times, though, that I start to find the joy, light, and love of His presence and His promise again.  One of my favorite songs has a line about how “it would not hurt any less, even if it could be explained.”  And I think that’s why I struggle with it so much:  Hope isn’t about explanation.

At Christmas, at the time we remember Jesus in the manger,  I see the beginnings of the fulfillment of His promise regarding the Messiah, but I also recognize more waiting.  There is the disappointment, rejection, and dying of Jesus to navigate before the Resurrection.  Hope is not the absence of these things, but rather the firm confidence that God is the great keeper of all His promises.  Those promises aren’t always on my timeline. 

Because I struggle with hope, specifically during the holidays, I started collecting Christmas ornaments.  I buy them all over the world, at all kinds of times (normally not Christmas!) as souvenirs to mark moments of God’s faithfulness in my life.  At Christmas time, I take these out, and see a tree full of memories of the promises He has fulfilled.

It helps me take comfort as it reminds me in a tangible way that God is with me, and it helps me wait for the One who has proved Himself over and over in my own life to be the keeper of all promises.  One day the dying will be over, because Resurrection into Life has fully come.

Prayer: God, in the face of disappointment help us to see hope.