Yesterday started the four weeks of Advent for the Christian faith. In its most simplistic meaning, it is a time of preparation. It's a time to prepare for the upcoming Christmas season as well as a time for the Church to focus on preparing for the return of Christ. It is broken down into four different "themes" for each week: hope, peace, joy, and love. I have never really paid much attention to the Advent season. This year, however, I have wanted something more.
This week I focus on hope. The Old Testament left us with Israel in captivity, still hoping for a Messiah. Hope can be hard to hold onto. It requires one to look beyond the circumstances they are in and believe in what can't be seen. It is a fragile thing and can be easily lost or broken.
The baby Jesus is a beautiful illustration of the fragility of hope. The promise fulfilled didn't come as an indefensible warrior or conquering king. It came as a defenseless infant. Just as the baby Jesus needed nurturing and protection so does hope.
We guard it, we feed it. We stand on the promise of something more instead of bowing down to present inadequacies. We wait. And hope grows. It flourishes. And so do we. We begin to see. There's a sliver of light in the darkness. The whisper of what could be becomes a shout of what is. Sickness is healed, the lame walk, and the blind see. Marriages are restored, families are reunited, and relationships repaired. Hope overcomes the odds, rejects doubts, and does not die.
The holiday season is difficult for many. My prayer for you is that at this time, your hope may be renewed, that you are sheltered from doubt and fear. I pray that you are reminded of the promise fulfilled through that baby in a manger. That promise was for you. I pray your circumstances do not deplete you of your strength. Instead, may they lead you to cling even harder to the hope of a better tomorrow.
I would like to share a verse with you that a friend shared with me when I first got diagnosed with RA.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18(NIV)
17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Our struggles now, no matter how difficult, are just a blink in the eye of eternity. Look beyond today and into the hope of tomorrow.