It was a dark and stormy night.

“It was a dark and stormy night.” Those are the words of “Snoopy” the beloved beagle in Charles Schultz’s “Peanuts” cartoon. Among ‘Snoopy’s’ many adventures and interests, he flies a World War II Sopwith Camel, and sleeps on the roof of his doghouse.  “Snoopy” is also a famous writer whose works are always rejected by the publisher. “It was a dark and stormy night,” is how all of his stories began. Lucy and Linus try to help Snoopy find a new beginning for his stories, something like “Once upon a time.” But Snoopy was persistent if nothing else. He wrote, “Once upon a time, it was a dark and stormy night.” Right up until February 2000, Snoopy was still writing about that “dark and stormy night.”

Life truly is filled with “Dark and stormy nights,” right along with times of hopelessness and despair. One of the great ironies of this Advent season, our time of preparing for the birth of our Savior, is that while the air is filled with hope and messages of goodwill, we often struggle with our own “Dark and stormy nights.” 

We have the ability to make every night a “Dark and stormy night,’ because of our own sinful wants, needs, and desires. The storms of life don’t just come at us from the outside. We create sinful situations and conditions by our own thoughts, words, and deeds. We try our best to live in Godly wisdom and discernment, but no matter how hard we try, we eventually fail and fall. 

Consider what life would have been like for Christians living under Roman rule in the 1stCentury. They were a very small group of people surrounded on all sides by angry Jews and hostile Greeks.  They even faced danger from within their ranks as false teachers and heretics attempted to lure them away from salvation by faith and back into a salvation by obedience religion. First Century Christians were in constant danger of being discovered or betrayed. But what they feared the most was being arrested and taken to the Coliseum to be Saturday afternoon’s entertainment. There, death came for Christians in many ways: being torn apart and by lions or eaten alive by a pack of wild dogs; killed by wild bulls or Cape Buffalo; being drawn and quartered by horses; or, a practice target for gladiators.

Hopelessness, fear, and despair is not the life God wants His people to live. God is pleased when our lives are filled with joy, contentment, and faithfulness, when we live above and beyond our circumstances. And in the “Root from the stump of Jesse,” that’s exactly what God offers us.

Hopefulness for us, for all believers, in possible even in the midst of “A dark and stormy night.” Human hope is always subject to the conditions and situation around us. In good times, it shines bright by nature. In difficult times, it fades and becomes weak. Fortunately, the hope you and I have is not ‘human hope,’ a hope based upon ourselves and our own actions. Our hope is based upon God and His actions. Our hope is based on the certain and sure Word of God and the promises of God. 

Our God is the “God of Hope.” Godly hope has as its foundation the powerful Word of God. The Word of God, the hope of God, and the promises of God all lead us to Jesus Christ, the Almighty and Everlasting Son of God, the “Root from the stump of Jesse.” Jesus entered our world of darkness and death to give us His “Light of life.” Through His suffering and death on the cross, God has forgiven your sins and welcomes you into His joyous and blessed Kingdom of Heaven. Through Jesus Christ we have hope! We have hope that is based on the Word and promises of our almighty and living God Himself. 

As long as we feed and nourish this God-given hope we have, it will never fade or grow weak when challenged. Instead, it grows brighter and stronger every time we join together in worship. In Christ, we are invincible as together we thrive in this glorious hope that is God’s gift to His church.

Hope, this God-given hope is real, and God wants you not just to have it, but to live it!. When you’re in the middle of one of those, “Dark and stormy nights,” God will be right there with you, standing beside you and keeping you strong. May the God of all hope fill you, your life, and your loved ones with joy and peace everlasting. Amen!