by Lt.Colonel Paul Smith, Assistant Chief Secretary
This past year has caused me to think about my first car. It was a 1972 yellow Ford Pinto. Among its many issues was the unfortunate tendency for the battery to go dead. Now to be perfectly honest, I must accept some responsibility as sometimes I would forget to turn off the headlights. I became known for “needing a jump.” My friends would roll their eyes and say, “Not again!” when they saw me approaching, holding my jumper cables. The process was simple: connect your dead battery to another in a friend’s running car and start your car. The key was to find a friend with some power to spare and who was willing to connect their car to yours.
It has been a long year. We are now a little more than a year since the first COVID-19 shutdown. We all have been impacted by social, economic and political upheavals. Public health actions, such as social distancing, are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they can make us feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety.
We need a jumpstart of hope. The good news is I believe we are poised for an outbreak of hope. Why would I make such an outrageous claim after such a difficult year? Several reasons give me confidence.
There is widely reported hope because of the vaccines being distributed and the relaxing of some COVID-19-related restrictions. I also see hope growing as more people embrace social justice, striving to see and treat each person as someone created in God’s image. Then, there is the hope because it’s finally spring; we can put away our puffy coats, go outside and enjoy God’s creation and each other’s company—socially distanced for now, of course.
But most of all we have reason to hope because of our relationship with God. The Psalmists repeatedly affirm their hope in the Lord (chapters 33, 39, 42, etc.). Paul encourages the believers in Colossae by saying: “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27b, NIV). In a few days we will be celebrating Easter—the ultimate symbol of hope, renewal and new life.
Returning to musings about my car and relying on each other, the final reason I anticipate hope growing is due to our connections within the Body of Christ. The many ways our corps families have stayed connected and have supported each other during the pandemic have been amazing. It is also the way we fulfill Christ’s command to love one another (Gal. 6:2). I’ve seen people in our corps coming alongside their neighbors and communities when they’ve seen them struggling. All of this results in a jumpstart of hope.