It could be argued that the year 2020 has needed a lot of things. At first, the lack was immediate, tangible. We needed toilet paper, bottled water, hand sanitizer. But as the pandemic has dragged on, it’s our emotional reserves that we’ve found most lacking. We paced ourselves for a sprint, then a marathon, only to find that the finish line keeps moving.
We are weary. We are divided. We are out of creative ideas. We are dreading a long winter. And perhaps what we need more than anything else is hope.
At the outset, it seemed like a terrifying prospect to be pregnant in a year marked by a pandemic, not to mention social unrest and political upheaval. Besides the imminent concerns of not having Daniel with me at doctor visits and wondering what delivery would look like in the era of COVID, I had other, more existential questions: What kind of world were we bringing a baby into? What kind of fractured cultural legacy were we passing on to the next generation?
But as the months have progressed with Baby Hope (as we’ve nicknamed the baby for now) growing inside me, I think this is actually the best way to weather such a fractious year. With each week that passes, I see Hope growing under my very nose. With each kick beneath my ribs, I reckon with life that marches onward. With each day that brings me closer to meeting this little person, I have no choice but to invest my heart in the future.
And I think that’s what God would want us to do, whether we’re pregnant with a child or pregnant with hope. I think he wants us to keep investing. Keep loving. Keep believing.
The thing about babies is that, like hope, they tend to grow little by little, almost imperceptibly. We have to be intentional about seeing the hope . . . and recognizing that this place we’re standing, as tumultuous as it may be, is indeed holy ground.
In her book Showing, author and professor Agnes R. Howard writes about the common yet miraculous events that transpire when a baby grows inside the mother:
A pregnant woman is honored as audience and collaborator, a watcher at a holy place, attending God doing something new. She is present at this creation.Agnes R. Howard
I believe God is at work all around us, unfolding new miracles every day. Even in 2020—maybe especially in 2020. The question is whether we will recognize them or not. Will we be watchers at this holy place?
The pregnant woman gets the revelation first. . . . The rest of us wait to encounter the new person for the first time. The expectant woman is not waiting in the same way. She already has encountered the new person. She already knows something.Agnes R. Howard
And so it is for those who have heard whispers of the coming Kingdom. We are waiting for the full glory of God to be revealed, but we aren’t waiting in the same way the rest of the world is. We have already encountered the little pulses of hope. We have felt the quickening in our hearts. We already know something.
So as we mark this first week of Advent, I dare you to choose hope. See it. Seek it. Fight for it. And when the fulfillment comes, be ready to cradle it in your arms.