There are a lot of awesome things about growing up in a Christian family. Knowing you are grounded in your faith and having been steeped in the routines of it for a lifetime is a huge blessing.
However, it can also mean that these routines can become rote or we take them for granted. Christmas carols can easily fall into this category. Especially if you are someone like me who has a pretty decent memory. I can rhyme off probably dozens of carols (and not just the first verse!) without giving it more than a few seconds’ thought.
Last week though, something tweaked for me. That little line that’s the title of this post… all your hopes and fears. The traditional carol it comes from is Oh Little Town of Bethlehem. “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”
Sara Groves gives this carol her own spin in a song called Peace, Peace. In it, she tweaks the lyrics a bit to read “all your hopes and fears are met in Him tonight” (after having repeated the “all your hopes and fears” line several times).
Side note before I go on: If you never listen to Sara Groves a) WHY NOT?!?! And b) you should start. Seriously. Her lyrics are so raw and honest and spoken from a real place, and her music rocks as well (and I’m not just saying that because she often features a cello).
All that to say, in listening to that song these past few weeks as well as the usual December carols, I was given pause to stop and think about that phrase, all your hopes, and fears. What does “all your hopes and fears” being “met in Him” look like? Not in the metaphoric, symbolic, melodic Christmas carol sense. But in a real, tangible, practical way?
*If you want some clarification as to what hope means in a worldly vs. biblical sense, go click the sermon link and listen to Matthew Skinner’s AWESOME sermon on hope from December 4. Seriously. Worth a listen if you missed it.
So I have a few thoughts about what those hopes and fears being met is NOT. It’s not some sort of instant win lottery ticket. It’s not a get out of jail free pass from the trials and cares of this world. In meeting all of your hopes and fears, God is not going to make all of your wildest dreams come true.
I think having our hopes and fears being met is about need, not want (as I’ve learned a lot of things are with God).
If someone asked me to list all of my “hopes and fears,” it would be a pretty personal and vulnerable list (even the thought makes me queasy). My hopes can seem unanswered and unfulfilled. My fears can seem crippling at times, especially as someone who’s long struggled with anxiety and overwhelming worry.
In fact, if I am being honest, writing this post comes at (what I am hoping – speaking of hope) is towards the end of what has been one of the hardest couple of weeks anxiety-wise that I have experienced in a while. So how is God meeting my hopes and fears in the midst of this?
Well, as He always does, God shows up with His truth at just the right moment. Another Advent realization I had this year (brought to me by my new DIY verse-a-day Advent calendar) is just HOW MANY verses of the Christmas story are about not fearing and God fulfilling his promises. I got home last Friday after a rough couple of days and was a day behind in putting up my verses. Low and behold, they BOTH contained references to belief, fear, and God’s promises. Talk about Him knowing what I needed to hear!
Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her. – Luke 1:45
The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.” – Luke 1:30-31
How else is God meeting my hopes and fears?
By doing what He always does. Taking my hand, and saying: “leave it with me.” Not “here’s what I’m going to do,” or “I’m going to give you this or get you out of that.” Just telling me to trust and count on Him. He’ll give me what I need when I need it.
Take this past couple of weeks for instance. My anxiety and fear struggles aren’t going away. But God has gifted me with an amazing community. People who are reaching out and surprising me with their care and concern. “Safe” friends, who I can let down my guard with, and not have to worry about how together I am. Pockets of time opening up to be on my own and rest (if I can manage to sit still long enough to enjoy them).
And messages of truth coming right when I need them (even a humble DIY advent calendar).
Meeting our hopes and fears isn’t a rescue. It isn’t an escape from the cares of this world. But it is a promise. An invitation to trust, despite circumstances. The question is, are you going to take it?