Over the next four weeks, we will be posting Advent Devotionals to prepare our hearts to celebrate Christmas! Advent is a tradition in the church of taking time in the weeks before Christmas to set our hearts on Jesus and anticipate His coming. We find that celebrating Advent is a powerful opportunity in the midst of a busy season to worship Jesus and stir our hearts for Him.
Christmas season is in full swing with lights on neighborhood houses, trees for sale, and Christmas music on the radio. I love this beautiful and cheer filled season and have so many memories of happy Christmases. One of my favorite Christmas hymns is “O Holy Night”, I love this line:
“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, as yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn...”
In spite of the merriment around us, the world seems weary right now. In these days, we desperately need the hope that this hymn describes: the hope of a new and glorious morning.
Hope is a tricky topic, especially at Christmas time. It’s risky to hope after we’ve experienced disappointments or failures or when we see the hardship in the world. The holidays can remind us of a failed relationship, a missed opportunity, being hurt by someone we trusted, or losing a friend. These experiences tempt us to stop hoping, and instead, to self protect, to risk less. They make us weary. At the same time, a hope that we see come to fruition can bring endless amounts of joy, giving us courage and strength to move forward in life.
This year I’ve experienced a hope fulfilled and a hope that is still awaiting it’s turn. The first, the birth of a healthy baby, the miraculous entry of a little life that has brought 10 months of joy to our household. The other, a best friend in a car accident, leaving her in a coma. And though she’s made progress, she hasn’t woken up. Some days my hope is full and strong, others it's weak and barely lingering.
I know that my hope needs a landing spot beyond my circumstances, otherwise its wandering and wavering depending on the day. Expecting a joyous outcome is painful when that outcome depends on people and situations. But when the landing spot of my hope is Jesus, hope can fill my heart in a way that is eternal.
Instead of hoping for things to happen how I think they should or how I want them to be, I am choosing today to place my hope in the firm hands of the one who IS hope. When I do this, I draw near to Jesus in an intimacy that is deepest in places of pain. My temptation is to escape, whether that’s through entertainment or food or focusing on happiness, it can seem easier to pull away in order to hide from disappointment. But when I really lean in to God, and release to Him the things I am hoping for, it is in that place that I find renewed trust in His will and in His ways.
The unwavering hope we look to is this: Jesus came to bring us hope for salvation and eternal life, hope for His Kingdom in this world as we live between the hope of His coming as a man and the hope of His returning as a King. Jesus is coming again as a King who will bring justice, restoration, and life. A King who will wipe every tear and restore every heart that belongs to Him. That is our eternal thrill of hope. And that is cause to rejoice.
My prayer for us today, in whatever circumstances we face, is this: “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 15:13
By Jillian Armstrong