Hope is a light in the dark. It guides us. It motivates us. Without it, we wouldn’t care to go on because what would be the point? How would we see to go if we even wanted to?
We put a lot of emphasis on love, I more than anyone. Paul would agree with me, I think, since he wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:13 that “faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love” (NRSV). So if the doctrine had a Big Three like some sports teams do, it’d be faith, hope, and love. All extremely important. It’s just that love is the one that stands front and center on all the magazine covers.
Hope deserves far more recognition than I think it gets. It’s what keeps us moving forward instead of stopping in our tracks.
Israel had a large, elaborate history of going to war, and the Jewish people have a long, sorrowful history of being oppressed. These were the circumstances and eyes that looked for the initial coming of Jesus. They were looking for liberation. They sought a new King who would usher in a new way of life.
Jesus wasn’t what people expected. They were watching for a mighty ruler to send the Romans running. They got a baby born in a manger.
So there is hope in the history leading up to the birth of Jesus. Prophecies and promises on the path to fulfillment. The earth tingling silently from contact with its Creator. People patiently waiting for change.
There is also hope for us in the birth of Jesus. 1 Corinthians 15:22 (NRSV) reads, “for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.” This is echoed in verse 45 of that same chapter when Paul writes, “Thus it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.”
Humanity failed. We distanced ourselves from God, and we’ve been getting lost within that distance ever since. We were dark stains before the purest Lord, and He couldn’t stand it to the point that He gave His son so that we could be cleansed.
And it came in the most ordinary package. A baby. Born to a family who was by no means wealthy or well-known far and wide. They couldn’t even get a room. Born to a family who was just figuring it out as they went along, if we’re being honest, and trusting in what God had told them. Isn’t that just like God, to give us hope in the most average of places, in the most normal ways?
I don’t know what you’re hoping for as this Christmas season arrives, but my hope is that your hope is in the right place. That it aligns with God and His will and that it’s for only what will glorify Him. And as we look forward that we would find ways to find hope again and again in the Christmas story, in our current and living relationships with God, and in each other.
By Carrie Prevette