Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22
Hope. That word may bring a flood of thoughts to your mind, especially this time of year. Maybe you are feeling no hope right now in the midst of all the Christmas busy. Maybe looking back on this year and only seeing failure you are hoping for something different next year because maybe this year has been full of loss for you. Maybe there have been battles, divorce, death, loss of dreams and vision, stealing all your hope. Maybe you are hoping for change, something new, something different. What does it mean to hope in something we can really believe in? On that first Christmas so long ago, Hope was born, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. The King of Kings, Hope in human form. He came and brought hope with Him. He settled it on the cross, so no matter what happens in this life, we can hold on to that permanent, eternal hope.
Hope was the first candle of Advent, a time of waiting and anticipation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas and the return of Jesus at the Second Coming. Before Jesus was born, the people were waiting for the chosen one, the seed of Israel, the Messiah. He came, just as promised, and in a most unconventional way. His mother was brought into Nazareth on a donkey and given the most basic of accommodations – literally just shelter, in a barn, with the animals. He was born without fanfare, His birth first heralded by the bleating of sheep and the braying of donkeys, not how a king’s birth was usually announced. He never sat on an earthly throne, He wore a crown of thorns, and was crucified on a cross so that we could have hope for eternity. Now we wait in hope for the second coming of our Messiah, every day living in a season of Advent.
So often we associate hope with our circumstances. We hope the weather is nice tomorrow for our picnic. We hope the job we want comes through. We hope our children make good choices. We hope we can get out of debt someday. Real hope has nothing to do with our circumstances. If we hope only in our circumstances, we will be disappointed when they change like shifting sand, and although sometimes our circumstances are great, that usually changes quickly and we are left with our hopes shattered again.
Hope is not something we always feel because circumstances overwhelm us, blocking everything else out. Hope has to be something we know, something that our emotions can’t touch, can’t erase or overpower. Hope is not about what is going on around us. If we let them, our circumstances will steal our hope – make our heart sick. The Bible says in Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick. Until we can learn to be fully and completely content in Jesus alone, our hopes will be deferred every time. If we are constantly hoping in something other than Him, we will never be fulfilled.
Hope is not about our circumstances.
Our circumstances make us focus on what is not, all that feels hopeless.
Putting our hope in our circumstances will make our heart sick with worry.
Hope is about a king on a throne, the King of Kings on the throne of our hearts.
How do we see or feel hope when our hearts are raw from life? The hope of Jesus propels us forward and makes us get up again, even when we can’t feel it. He stepped out of heaven to come to earth so we could have hope because, without Him, we have no hope. His is a life-giving hope that heals the raw places.
“Hope isn’t about thinking something will get better. Hope is about believing Someone better is already here.” – Ann Voskamp
And He is here. He has come and in Him, we can find our hope.
Looking back, I have learned to be thankful for all the hard places in life. If life is perfect, what do we hope for? How do we even know what hope is? If I never had hard things, if my heart was never raw, how would I grow? Strength only comes with resistance and challenge. Hope is the promise – not that things will change or be better – but that the King of Kings is on the throne of my life and that His infinite wisdom and sovereign reign over my life will see me through and lead me in the direction of His perfect plan.
By Lara Cook