Advent Reflections: On Hope

burning_candles_in_church

Advent is the season of waiting, of expectancy and anticipation. We remember the centuries that went by as generation after generation waited. They were watching, living in darkness, and longing for their foretold Messiah whose light would break through.

“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine…For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called:

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!”

-Isaiah 9:2-7

This was the promise given thousands of years ago. And we have seen the fulfillment: a Messiah was born in Bethlehem who fulfilled all Israel’s prophecies down through centuries.

Jesus is hope fulfilled.

But what about the darkness that still surrounds us? What about the slavery that still oppresses? What about the war that still kills and the bloodshed that continues? What about that?

Advent is not just about Israel’s waiting long ago, but it is also about our time of waiting now. We have seen the Messiah and we’ve been given the gift of his Holy Spirit, and yet we still wait. As we watch the news and breathe our prayers, we wait. Because if the wait was over, these shootings and bombings and unjust murders would be a forgotten nightmare.

Though Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom of God come to earth then, we still wait for our Lord and Savior’s kingdom to come in its fullness. We wait for the day when every tear will be wiped away, when “the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned.” We wait for the time when all will be made right, when the oppressor will enslave no longer and injustice is brought to a final end.

And the good news is, we don’t wait in pointless despair. We wait in hope.

When the angel paid that history-altering visit to Mary, she began waiting. She was waiting, not only for the promise given to her people, but for her promise to come to pass. And she waited in hope because she knew:

God always keeps his promises.

It was said of Mary in Luke 1: “You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

Mary believed. That’s what hope is—believing God is going to come through. Believing against all odds that God is going to deliver on his promise, no matter how unlikely it feels or how long it seems to take.

 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

John 1:5

Hope says, “although darkness surrounds, the candle will not go out.” Hope says, “though the winter bleakness surrounds us, spring will come again.” Hope prophesies to the world: THIS IS NOT THE END OF THE STORY. Hope believes that God’s fierce love will overcome the hate, and that his kingdom of peace will forever reign victorious over war.

As those who orient our whole lives and even our calendar around this baby born in Bethlehem, we can take heart. Our Savior King is come. He is the glorious light that the darkness can never extinguish. And as we continue to wait, longing for God to fulfill all his promises—corporate and personal—let’s hold onto hope. Like Mary, let’s stay resolute in believing that our God always keeps his promises. Because Jesus himself is our hope fulfilled, our hope is in the very character of God. No matter what circumstances arise, Jesus himself is our hope.

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

Hebrews 11:1

Though we cannot see, we HOPE.

*image source*

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