After church last Sunday I was asked if the term “hope” appears very often in the Bible. It is mentioned over 200 times. I have always felt that a healthy religion embodies hope, for it is through hope that God can work and move in our world. Those who trust God will live in hope of what God can do. I recently quoted Bible scholar Eugene Peterson who said, hope “is a willingness to let God do it his way and in his time.” To live this way requires some patience on our part and a willingness to let God work in God’s way, not ours. It requires us to relinquish our own expectations about how God will work and also our need to control how our future unfolds.
Not only does the Bible invite us to live by hope in what God can do and accomplish, but also to share and spread hope, to help others both participate in and anticipate in what God will bring. Isaiah writes beautiful words we readily quote in Advent, looking ahead to the coming of the messiah: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light…For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” These words speak a remarkable affirmation of how God works in our darkest moments, helping us through and bringing us the light of love. We look to Jesus to accomplish what no human leader can provide: counsel, lasting peace, the strength of God, the care of our heavenly parent. We look to what God will provide that makes our life both meaningful and hopeful, in the dark moments and the joyous times. Sunday we worship the God who rekindles our hope so that we too can rejoice in the coming of the promised one, Jesus Christ.
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