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Hope and Fear

‘But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’ (Luke 2:10-11 NASB)

The first verse of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” ends with, “Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light. The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

Hope and fear pretty much cover my feelings about life—from stepping on the scale each morning to wondering where our nation is headed—so I’ve been pondering this verse.

Consider my grandsons. The 7-month-old, whom I’m holding in my arms right now, is innocent. He has wants and a will, and he clearly enjoys bouncing and bopping, music and dancing, the itsy bitsy spider and dooby doop. I hope for him to adore and obey God all his life, but fear is not yet tangible, which in itself is a mark of present prosperity.

The elder is almost three years old. You can see the boy and man incubating in his young soul. If there is a less-trodden path, that’s the one he chooses, up the forested hill through the underbrush. He loves airplanes, making cookies, sweeping, running, singing, and asking “why?” In addition, a forceful contrary will is making its appearance. “I don’t want to listen to Grandma!” He’s actually at a dangerous stage, because whatever is not allowed, he deliberately does.

That contrary will is scary enough today, but seeing where it can lead is fuel for fear. I know teenagers and grownup men, I read the papers, I volunteer in prison. Let’s be real, I know the sin that I myself am capable of. Thinking about the future unknowns for these precious boys can make me crazy.

But crazy is not the end of the story. There’s a meeting place for hope and fear for my grandsons, and Jesus is that place.

Jesus lived babyhood and the terrible twos. He knows growing up from the inside and also from the outside, as the Creator God. He lived through puberty, impressively it seems, holding his own in the temple on matters of religion when a young teen; but we’re assured that Jesus sympathizes with our weaknesses because He has “been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15 NASB).

Jesus also is good, in a way that no one else is. If there is love, His love is the best. If there is prayer, no one can intercede like He does. If there is a dream of a man to grow from a baby, no one has power to fulfill the dream but God, the one who dreams us into existence. The question is, will I trust Jesus, the baby-God, the One who dreamed my grandsons into life?

Can I trust in the world to be an amenable place to grow up? Finances to be secure? A bubble to surround the boys so they’re never sick or sad, bullied or coerced; so they never face their own or others’ mistakes, or contend with meanness, hatred, war or terrorism? If I trust in myself or in the world, fear has plenty of fertile ground.

But Jesus is the One I trust with my grandsons. Fear in the presence of Jesus disappears. “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18 NASB), and Jesus truly has perfect love. Hope blooms from commending them to Jesus and trusting God to build the future for the boys and men my grandsons will be. Jesus is the Savior of the world, including my grandsons, and that is great joy!

Jani can be reached by email here. More information about “O Little Town of Bethlehem” can be found here, which is also the source of the picture.

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