Hope is frowned upon by cynics, intellectuals and realists as being too naive and childlike. Hope is sometimes even discouraged by well meaning Christians out of fears that unrealized hopes will lead to a lack of faith or disappointment. As a result of both secular and religious attacks, we find ourselves suppressing hope daily, clinging to the idea that we must be tough to survive and stoic to show true faith. Hope is seen as weakness.
But advent arrives every December - amidst our broken relationships, sick family members, tight budgets, sinful struggles and unmet longings - and it gently calls out to us - Hope, Long, Believe.
Advent reminds us of a people who hoped for a Savior for hundreds of years before their longing was finally realized. Advent is a celebration of fulfilled longings and answered prayers.
Advent points to Jesus, His arrival as an infant and His coming return; but it also gives us a much needed respite from a world of cynicism and fear. Advent reminds us to place our hope in a Savior who hears, understands and answers, a Savior who lived in this same fallen and painful world. Advent reminds us that trust and faith is more than just obedience and fear because we are free to hope for change, freedom, healing and answers. Advent reminds us of our eternal hope and a victory that is already won.
And, perhaps most encouraging for many facing difficulties and trials during the Holiday season, advent provides this comfort: we serve a God who understands our pain and longings, a God who is with us in the waiting. Advent reminds us that longings can be answered and that waiting can be used for preparation, growth and anticipation.
Our world may be cynical, but even a generation of realists long for Christmas miracles, unexplained joys, family reconciliations, healing, relationships and love this time of year. Every cheesy Christmas movie or commercial displays a sense of hope (albeit false hope) during this season. But we are so fortunate to have a real hope and answer to our longing. We have a Savior who came, will return, answers and sustains.
It's sometimes hard to hope in this broken world, but advent is for the hopeless. It is for those who feel like they are wading through mud, stuck in a world of waiting and longing. Advent reminds us or our true hope. Advent provides a time to celebrate longing, anticipate answers, rest in His comfort and remember that He came to save us from a broken world full of longing and waiting.
So, hope away. Cling to our greatest hope. Lay your longings at His feet. Trust that He can provide and sustain. We are blessed with these 4 weeks each year that remind us of the Hope we have been given.