Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
It’s now the beginning of Advent. This is the time of the year where we spend a month preparing ourselves for one day. People sometimes complain about others that celebrate Christmas too soon. I mean, we just finished Thanksgiving a week ago. Most of us are still trying to recover from that! But Advent is a really special season. I never really celebrated Advent much growing up (except for the chocolate calendar!), but now that I’m older, I’m beginning to appreciate much of these ancient practices. It’s a way to interrupt my rhythm, the mundanity of life. So for these four weeks of Advent, I’m getting into the God’s greater rhythm.
Advent is an amazing way for Christians to re-tell the stories. We immerse ourselves in the Christmas story to feel the excitement and anticipation that many had for his arrival.
The first Sunday of Advent deals with hope. At my church, we’re following a devotional from the Vineyard USA The Heart Has A Home. It’s really great. It’s actually interesting to me because it uses the Gospel of John as an Advent story. I had never thought of John as lending itself adventally (I can make up words, right?), but reading along in this devotional is helping me to think of it that way.
This Sunday, we talked about hope.
The great American playwright Thornton Wilder once said, “Hope is a projection of the imagination; so is despair. Despair all too readily embraces the ills it foresees; hope is an energy and arouses the mind to explore every possibility to combat them…”
I really love that quote. How many of us when we face these problems let our minds wander into despair? I know that I’m in that camp. I’m working in youth ministry, and it’s not at all what I expected. I had studied all these books, read all these things, and I felt ready to jump into ministry after I graduated seminary. Instead, ministry is jumping all over me. My dad (boss) constantly reminds me when things go wrong, “Welcome to ministry.”
When problems start piling up, we don’t always see the solutions; we get tunnel vision. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong. This becomes our outlook. We fall prey to despair instead of hope.
Now, I’m not suggesting some kind of escapism. I believe in the realities of situations, but our outlook as followers of Christ should always be hopeful. We should call forth life out of death. Our perspective should never be half-empty because anything is possible with God!
Paul talks about hope giving us boldness. Because hope is an energy, it empowers us to move beyond what we think is capable. J.R.R. Tolkien writes in The Fellowship of the Ring, “Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”
Because we have faith, we have hope. We are emboldened to do the tasks that God calls us toward. In our weakness, he is strong. When problems come your way (and they will), choose hope.