The family calendar tells our story perhaps more clearly than any other item in our homes. I have saved our family calendars to remember our family’s history. The vacations to Colorado, the trip to Boston, funerals, births, parties, games, practices and games, piano lessons. I was a sorry scrapbooker and a lousy photographer; but I cataloged our busy lives by writing things on the calendar. Between Ross’ and my activities and the things that kept us busy with three kids, nearly every day has something, or many things, written in it. We were busy. Even with the children now grown we are still very busy. My guess is you are too.
And then the pandemic. Though I didn’t hear it, it was almost like an audible screeching of brakes heard round the world. People sent home from work and school. Celebrations canceled or altered drastically. No movies, live theatre, sports, or concerts. Travel plans canceled. No kids camp or Awana or regular Sunday classes. Not even attending worship services together for four months!
For families, this has meant unprecedented time together. Time together in a global pandemic. Not quite the same as time together on a family vacation. Time together in the midst of confusion and rapid change and loss around us. Time together with news of death and suffering, isolation and loneliness repeated across the globe. These are no doubt difficult days. They are also days that provide us with an opportunity to ache for Christ in a new way.
This ache is not new for God’s people who waited hundreds of years for the Messiah to come. As Pastor Josh preached on the genealogy of Jesus from Matthew 1, I imagined each of those generations crying out, ‘How long?’ Resist the urge to look forward to days when your family calendar can be full again! Determine to let the ache of the losses in these days point your children to Christ. The one who came and the one who will come again.
Psalm 78 begins with instruction to God’s people to tell the coming generation about what God has done. Though each generation was unfaithful to God, he was faithful to them. God’s loving redemption followed by sinful rebellion from generation to generation. The point of passing on these stories was not for children to be proud of their ancestors! It was so they would set their hope in God. The faithful God who loves and redeems sinful people.
The psalmist instructs us well. While you have some space in your family calendar, use a good children’s story Bible and remember together God’s mighty acts of redemption from the Old Testament. Share your own story of redemption with them. Read Revelation 21 and 22 together so they have a picture of the promised future for God’s people.
So, how does your family calendar look for December? There may be some empty spaces that last year were filled with parties, recitals, and Christmasy things! While we should grieve the losses we should not miss the opportunity they provide. We have the chance to take these unique days that God has given us to remind one another of our hope in God. In 1 Peter 1:3-9, Peter describes this hope as a ‘living hope’ springing from Christ’s resurrection from the dead and looking toward the glorious inheritance that is ours in Christ. This is why we rejoice even in the midst of trials! How might you do that with your family this December?
We do not know what will fill our calendars in 2021, or in the years after that. But we do know that God has given us great trials in 2020—and great opportunity to be reminded why it is we hope in him. May our hope in Christ shine brightly to our neighbors and friends who are without this living hope.