By Simone Gregor –
Only a few days left before you leave us – some may say goodbye to you with mixed emotions. For some, you meant confusion, chaos and struggle. For others, you brought new beginnings and joy. The world isn’t likely to forget you in a hurry: Brexit, the victory of Donald Trump and the crisis in Aleppo are but a few of the history-shaping events that unfolded while you were here. In South Africa, things got real as those fighting for transparency and good governance were challenged, while others focused on self-enrichment clung relentlessly to their power. The economy took a concerning turn and the future of universities seemed to hang in the balance.
This is why, dear 2016, I mentioned that you might not have been everyone’s favourite. You might’ve caused them to doubt and be anxious about the future. You might’ve caused them to question their reality. Conversely, and thankfully, you might’ve caused them to cling to Hope with all their might and caused Hope to grow in its resilience.
It seems like divinely orchestrated timing that a mere six days before your departure, we celebrate the birth of a King who came to earth as a child. Hope came from heaven in utter humility. With this same humility He died for our sins on the Cross, taking on God’s wrath so that we may have eternal life. God sent His best, His son, to explain His boundless love to the world.
In making sense of all that you, 2016, brought with you to our beautiful, broken world, I take courage in the fact that the One who brings this Hope is always with us, always at work. [Lamentations 3:22] His name, Immanuel, meaning God is with us, confirms this promise. [Matthew 1:23] If He was courageous enough to take our sins upon Himself on the Cross in exchange for our freedom, can we not take comfort in the promise that He walks beside us – always, through everything? [Isaiah 54:10]
Sometimes we forget that He writes our story, which is, all along, His story. As Ann Voskamp so aptly puts it: we need to see the Cross as the lynch pin of history for the last 2000 years – we can’t reduce what was done at Calvary to a footnote in the explanation of our lives.
Christmas gives us the opportunity to reflect on the significance of Jesus’ birth – a moment that set into motion the reconciliation process between God and man. Isaiah foretold His birth and said that His name would be Prince of Peace [Isaiah 9:6]. A divinely appointed Prince who had to die on the cross to restore the peace between man and God. The beautiful thing about this heavenly Peace is that it isn’t subject to the fickle whims of man. God is constant, and therefore His promise of Peace – found in Him – is constant, and won’t be broken.
So as we bid you farewell, 2016, we are reminded that His Hope overshadows history, His Hope brings life and we are covered by His Peace – always.
Go well, 2016, you have taught us much.
Picture by Paballo Thekiso