What is Hope? What do we Hope for? What happens if we lose Hope?
The first week of Advent revolves around Hope. Merriam Webster defines it as:
HOPE: to want something to happen or be true and think that it could happen or be true
Frankly, this is a strange definition. For me, hope is the blessing of a new day. It’s the love of a family and the presence of peace in my home. It’s knowing that no matter what, with God’s help, all will be well- even if everything in my life is topsy-turvy.
When I became a new Christian, the hope I found in Christ was like nothing I had experienced. For this reason in the Bible, hope is mentioned in conjunction with God. There are several verses that talk about the hope we have in Christ. We are called to one body, one Spirit, one Hope (Eph 4:4). Faith is also linked to Hope. Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance of what we do not see (Heb 11:1).
As a Muslim, I did have hope. It was set squarely in my own abilities and in my parents. I believed that my own good works and the good reputation of my family would be enough to carry me along my whole life. Very quickly, that deteriorated. I realized that was a childish attitude and that I had more desire to fulfill my own selfish needs than to help others. I still believed I was a good person, because I didn’t understand God’s absolute holy nature and that I could not earn my way into His favor. Throwing some change into the red Salvation Army bucket solidified the thought that I was such a nice person. I chose to place all the hope I had in myself.
As an immigrant, the American Dream played right into my hopes and those of my parents. This is a country like no other. If you try hard enough, you can make your own future, your own piece of heaven, your own peace and freedom. As a driven person, I almost burnt myself out on my career. I created competition between my husband and I (my career is better than yours) and I ignored the needs of my children. At the same time, I was raising quickly up the corporate ladder. I was loved and adored at work but at home, I had a great deal of sadness. My hopes and dreams were being fulfilled but there was an empty void. This wasn’t quite what I had envisioned. Maybe if I had more titles, money, prestige, I would be better.
It took me several more years until I realized that hope shouldn’t be in myself or in others. When I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, there was an immediate sense of relief. God wants you drop your burdens at His feet and to come to him as you are. You don’t have to wait until you are an executive, or until you have met certain goals or a rank. In fact, he says “blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Matt 5:5).” That is so backwards from what the world says. I think that’s why it stays in your brain as a kernel of truth that distrupts thought.
So it makes sense that the first week of Advent is to light the candle of HOPE. It belongs to Christ. We cannot lose it when he holds it secure. We can run to him for the hope that shines like a beacon in the dark. Hope beckons us in turbulent times, when the waves of life come crashing down upon us causing us to slip and be tossed about on waves like infants(Eph 4:14).
Have you lost hope? Have you looked for for it? Have you found it in Christ? This is the time when we can confidently approach the throne of God and find all our hopes and dreams at Jesus Christ’s feet, for our treasures are stored up in heaven.
~We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain… Hebrews 6:19