Is it just me or has 2017 felt like a rough year?
The world has seemed like a darker, harder place this past year. On a personal level, there has been a lot of death in and around my life in recent months.
Since April, my great-aunt and uncle passed away. My parents’ dearest friends both died within months of each other – one in August and one in November. My dad left us in early September. One of my best friends is fighting for her life because after 12 years, her body is rejecting her transplanted lungs. The son she and her husband waited years to adopt will be two in January.
And it’s not just me that death has touched either. Our pastor lost his father only a few weeks ago, and another church member lost her two-year-old grandson after a kidney transplant they never thought he’d live to have. There are so many people I know that are fighting cancer or other scary diseases.
Sometimes life just feels dark and hopeless.
This year, I’ve done a lot of journaling, both in Bible study and in prayer. As I flipped through my journal the other morning, I noticed something.
I do a lot of doodling in my journals and on page after page, I had doodled the lines of an old song. “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.”
That’s not a song I hear a lot anymore, but there it was in my journal. Not once, but many times.
As we come up to Christmas, the story is so familiar isn’t it? In our Bibles, the difference between the last book fo the Old Testament Malachi and the Gospels is a simple flip of the page. But the reality is, that flip of the page represents 400 YEARS of silence from God.
Four centuries of echoing emptiness. No prophets. No messages. No Word of the Lord.
Hope in the Dark
So, when we come to the story of Simeon in Luke 2:25-35, his faith stands like a shining beacon in what was surely a dark and hopeless time. His faith really was built on nothing less than Jesus – even though Jesus hadn’t been born yet.
Sure, the Jewish people said they were looking for the Messiah, but how many even believed that promise anymore? How many gave more than lip service to something they had waited for, well, centuries? With no new word to give hope.
What I love about the Bible is that every time I read a familiar story, God shows me something I haven’t seen before. I’ve heard the story of Simeon many times. I’ve read the verses and thought, “Oh, that’s nice.”
But this time around, it brought me up short.
This time the echoing silence seemed to ring in my own ears. This time I could almost taste the dark hopelessness of a people whose promise of deliverance seemed distant and dim.
Just a Regular Guy
Who was Simeon? Well, I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I always thought he was a priest for some reason, but he’s not. He’s just a regular guy.
The verses in Luke say he lived in Jerusalem. He was righteous and devout. The big difference is he was looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. This was a big deal since the Holy Spirit wasn’t promised to every believer at that time.
In fact, the Holy Spirit had told Simeon that he wouldn’t die until he saw the Messiah. And Simeon believed him.
That was the difference about Simeon. He wasn’t just looking for Israel’s consolation. He believed the Messiah was coming. In his lifetime. Even though, the silence to the nation was deafening.
God Sees Our Faith Even in the Darkness
I love that God noticed an individual’s faith and that He blessed Simeon because of it. Yes, the nation was in silent vacuum, but Simeon wasn’t.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (emphasis min) Hebrews 11:6
The Bible is full of the difference individual people’s faith had – Enoch, Noah, and Abraham to name a few.
This story also reminds me that Jesus’ birth was a light during a dark and hopeless time.
I don’t know what is weighing you down today. I do know there are a lot of people who will not find this Christmas season one of joy and togetherness and celebration, but instead will find it hard and lonely and a little hopeless. May I say, Jesus’ birth STILL shines a light, no matter how dark or how hopeless or how silent your world feels right now.