When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told themLuke 2: 17-20
Today’s verse shows us about some of the many ways hope is expressed. First we see the shepherds who have come to meet Jesus. They have come after trusting in God, leaving their fields and obeying what the angels have told them to do. When they meet Jesus they are filled with so much hope that they tell anyone and everyone about the good news and later, when they return, they praise and glorify God for all that he had shown them. These actions are actions of joy. This new hope that God had given to the shepherds had such an impact that they started to express an outward joy. This joy then impacted all those around them. People were ‘amazed at what the shepherds had told them’(vs 20).
However, we also see how hope isn’t always expressed outwardly. Mary displays her hope inwardly. She ‘treasured all these words’(vs 19), and doesn’t let them pass her by, she holds these memories close to her heart and is hopeful about God’s plan for her son. In a word, Mary’s hope seems to be expressed as peace. She has an inward peace in her heart from the knowledge that God has a plan for her and her family. It would have been the least likely situation to have peace, having had a stressful time finding a place to stay and then giving birth to a child in a stable so far away from what she knew as home. And yet the hope that God gives also brings her peace.
Over the past year, the interaction between hope, joy and peace have been particularly on my mind. This time last year I was living in Kosovo for six months as a part of a gap year. I was there in a team of four, all of us volunteering at an educational centre, running the nursery and teaching English to the older children and young people.
Before we left the UK, as a part of our training, we picked a team verse. We chose Romans 15:13:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
At the start of each day before the children arrived we would pray together as a team for the children, for our work and anything that was worrying us or particularly on our hearts. As we did this we trusted that God would guide us throughout the day in all of our actions and words as we taught the children and young people, and we found that we became more able to exercise his joy and peace in our day. By the end of the six months we realised that just by trusting God and trying to live in joy and peace, we had an impact on the lives of our friends there and they began to ask us where our hope came from.
You see, when we trust in God, the ‘God of Hope’, we become motivated to live in his joy and peace, and when we do so, we have an impact on the world around us. We become ambassadors of hope through the good news of Jesus who was the ultimate ambassador of hope in our world. And, the amazing thing is, is that anyone can be an ambassador of hope, from whatever background or situation. God chose the shepherds who were considered to be some of the lowest of society to be the ones to share the hope of Jesus!
The ‘daily share’ is a hint each day for how you could share some hope in your life, today.
Hope inspires us to live with joy and peace, which can both look like the outwardly overflowing praise and good news spreading of the shepherds or the reflective and heart-warming memory keeping of Mary. However, what we can learn is that it starts with trusting God with each and every little thing in our days. Is there anything that you need to entrust to God as you start your day? Ask God to fill you with joy and peace and at the end of the day look back to see how you shared hope to those around you.
Katie is the youth intern at TRINITY this year before she starts university at Swansea in 2021. As a part of the internship Katie often sings in the worship band, helps at the cafe and is one of the leaders at the weekly youth events. In her spare time, Katie loves to go on dog walks, draw, read books, travel to different countries and have a good cup of tea!