Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
I remember when I was little, going to bed on Christmas Eve was the hardest and the most amazing thing to do. I would lay there so excited about the next morning that I couldn’t sleep. There were things that I hoped against hope would be under the tree when I awoke. But, the main thing, is that I knew deep down that, regardless of what I hoped would be there, there was always something wonderful there. I knew that. I thought sure that there was no way I would ever go to sleep but at some point, I would drift off. Then in the morning, I would lay there for a little awhile. Even at a young age, I understood that there was this moment–this wonderful glorious moment when I would get my first look at the Christmas tree (post-Santa’s visit) and I would savor it, push it until I could not stand it anymore. Then, there it was–this moment filled with beauty and wonder and hopes fulfilled before the tree stood a short time later in a barren wasteland of discarded wrapping paper. But in that moment was hope alive.
I think we have lost the meaning of the word hope. We’ve become like that young child, attaching it to a list of needs or wants that we have somehow conjured up in our head. We have gotten hope confused with wishing. I think, though, that hope is more. It is not what we want to happen or what we wish would happen; hope is what we expect will happen. The young me had somehow gotten that part of it too–that understanding that hope was not merely wanting something, but daring to expect it, daring to imagine that it would actually come to be.
As Christians, we are given hope. Oh, hope was always there. We just believe that it became more tangible that night in the manger and that it could no longer even be denied as we stood before an empty tomb. But what we do with that hope is up to us. Living with hope is not about merely wishing things were different and it’s certainly not about wanting things to be better for us. Living with hope is living with the conviction that somehow, some way, even though it doesn’t make sense to us and even though we don’t understand it, we dare to expect that that moment will come to be–filled with beauty and wonder and hopes fulfilled.
This season of Advent gives us hope. In our waiting, in this season in which we have to let go of our need to control what is going to happen, our need to plan, our need to jump ahead to the next season, we find hope. And as the passage implies, hope feeds our faith, gives it life. Hope is not wishing; hope is expecting. Dare to expect what seems to be beyond hope and there you will find hope. Hope is alive. It is more than a dream; it is the story into which we live. Living with hope is daring to live as if what you are expecting has already come to be.
Hope holds with it the promise that God always answers our questions by showing up, not necessarily with what we ask for but with remarkable gifts that change our lives and the world. (Mary Lou Redding, “While We Wait”)
FOR TODAY: For what do you hope? What do you expect? What would it mean to live with expectant hope?
Grace and Peace and Advent Blessings,