The hopes and fears of all the years...

In this first week of Advent, we celebrate and recognize hope. We remember the hope the Israelites walked in -- hoping for a Messiah who would come to rescue them from their oppression and brokenness. We celebrate the incarnation that met all their hopes from their long, toiling years.

For hundreds of years, the Israelites endured oppression, wandering and exile. They were punished by God for disobedience, and yet God promised that their rescue and restoration was coming. The prophets, again and again, declared that hope was coming -- in the Messiah.

“Hoping does not mean doing nothing… It is the opposite of desperate and panicky manipulations, of scurrying and worrying. And hoping is not dreaming. It is not spinning an illusion or fantasy to protect us from our boredom or our pain. It means a confident, alert expectation that God will do what He said He will do. It is imagination put in the harness of faith. It is a willingness to let God do it His way and in His time.” - Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

Hope does not protect us from our pain. Rather, it meets us in it. Hope is not simple optimism that things will work out in the end. It is not just simple wishing, but like Peterson said, it is a confident, alert expectation that God will do what He said He will do. Because Christ has already come, our hope is not just a future hope (like the Israelites had) -- but a present hope. Christ has come, and he is with us in our brokenness even now.

My prayer for you this Advent season is that your heart would be filled with Hope. Hope in the already come Christ, hope in the present working of His Holy Spirit, and hope in His coming again to make all things right.

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Rev 21:4