In 2011, a tsunami devastated the Japanese town, Rikuzentakata. Over 1,700 people died that day. There was not one man, woman or child unaffected by the tragedy. Buildings were destroyed. Businesses lost. A landscape once lush with the vegetation of 70,000 trees almost completely desolate.
The whipping wind and gigantic waves beat on one tree over and over, like all the others, but it would not be removed. It stood tall despite the storm it encountered. “For those of us who were left suffering after the disaster, the miracle pine gave us the strength and hope to carry on living,” shared Futoshi Toba. This “Miracle Tree,” as it was nicknamed, was a sign of hope for the people who lived through extreme loss, pain and heartache.
Many of us will not have to live through the horrific events of a literal, physical tsunami. But all of us will face strong winds and powerful waves in our lives. Unfortunately, no one’s life is completely void of storms. They are inescapable.
We are no strangers to chaos in this world. The news reminds us of that daily as we hear about bombings, shootings, abductions along with all other kinds of evil. Closer to home, we face conflicts within the walls of our homes or in the corners of our own mind. Those we love struggle with terminal illnesses. Friends lose their jobs. We aren’t sure how bills are going to be paid. We feel all alone in life.
We can easily get swept up in all of it and need a reminder that there is strength and hope to carry on. Something … or Someone … that will show us that there is a reason to keep going. A reason to get out of bed another day. A reason to rejoice.
Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in you alone. — Psalm 33:22
Jesus is our only hope.
As I was sitting in a worship service recently, I was reminded of one of the names of Jesus. He is the Bright and Morning Star. Just like the people of Rikuzentakata have their “Miracle Tree,” we have our “Bright and Morning Star.” The morning star breaks through the darkness and alerts us that morning is coming soon. It says, “Hope is coming!” When we feel like life has left us beaten down, we can look to our morning star and know that hope is immanent.
As Christmas nears, it reminds us to celebrate the gift of hope we’ve been given through Jesus’ birth. Our God came to us as a fragile baby and lived through 33 years’ worth of storms and chaos. As a child, He was hunted by King Herod, who tried to snuff out His light. But Herod would not prevail. No enemy, or darkness or even death itself could overcome Jesus. Despite every attempt of the enemy, Jesus shines as a beacon of hope for humanity.
As Dr. Tony Evans puts it, “We have lasting hope through the salvation we have in Christ … Hope means that even when it looks like it’s all over, it’s not all over yet. That’s why the Bible says we can rejoice even in our tribulations. God is working in our hard times to produce proven character and hope in us.”
Did you catch that?
God is using the storms in our life to produce hope.
I’m not saying He’s bringing the storms, but I am saying He’s going to bring you through them with His hope. He’s going to show you that even though the storms look threatening that He will be faithful hold you. You may see devastation all around you, but you will remain anchored in Him.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. he was in the world, and the world was made through Him. — John 1:9-10
When do we look for stars? At night. When the sky is covered with a black veil and yet it is in that darkness that the stars shine even brighter. In the same way, when life feels as though it’s covered in darkness, we can look and see our Bright and Morning Star shining brightly, giving us hope that His light will always overcome the darkness.
This Christmas season may you be reminded that there is hope and He has a name: Jesus, our Bright and Morning Star. He shines bright and will hold you up no matter the size of the waves that come your way. Set your eyes on the Bright and Morning Star and know that He will bring you through.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. — Romans 15:12-13