Knowing God, Knowing Hope - Part 3Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Hope is in short supply these days. In this morning's newspaper, I read about growing tensions in the Middle East and the possibility of war on several fronts. The European economic future looks bleaker by the day. And, on the home front in the United States, we face the looming "Fiscal Cliff" with its dire financial implications. There was a time when we put hope in our leaders to solve the crises of our world. But, increasingly, we have lost confidence in them and their ability to fix our broken world.
Hopelessness also invades our personal lives. Many of us have lost our jobs in the economic slowdown of the last few years. Our families have not turned out in the way we had wanted them to. In many cases, even our churches and religious leaders have let us down. We often feel defeated and desperate. Like I said, hope is in short supply these days.
Yet, in the midst of the doldrums, Christians are to be people of persistent hope. The season of Advent is, in fact, a time of concentrated hope as we prepare for the birth of the Christ child. As I explained in yesterday's reflection, our hope is not wishful thinking. It is not denying the pain in our world or pretending that our lives are without struggles. In fact, Christian hope is not based on the condition of the world or on some magic calculus that promises our lives will be better. Rather, our hope rests on God, on his character, his faithfulness, and his promises. Our hope remains solid even when life disappoints us because it is founded on the one who is utterly reliable.
As Christians, our hope is focused on the content of God's calling to us, on the salvation that is to come, when all things will be put right through Christ. Though we begin to experience some of what is to come in this life, we recognize that our world is still broken, that things will not work out in the short run as we would like. Our hope in Christ does not mean that, during our lifetime, every problem will be solved, every disease healed, every victim of oppression set free, every hungry child fed. Yet, we have confidence that God will one day complete his work of mending the world. This confidence is our hope, a hope that keeps us going, a hope we offer to a hopeless world.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What things in your life make it hard for you to have hope? What inspires your hope in God and God's future?
PRAYER: Faithful God, it is so easy these days to give up hope, to slip into cynicism, to let negativity reign in our hearts. The people and institutions in whom we have trusted have so often let us down. And the problems we face in our world seem absolutely overwhelming. Hopeless reaches out to grasp my heart and claim it as its own.
But you offer hope that is greater than this world. Because of who you are and what you have done, because you have called us to yourself and your salvation, we can have hope. We can confidently expect that you will one day put all things in order through Christ. In that day, you will turn our weapons into farm tools, our mourning into dancing. As we focus upon you and your future, we have hope. And this hope empowers us to live for you in the world.
May we be people of genuine, God-focused hope. And may we share this hope with our neighbors, who so desperately need it. Amen.
We have just entered the Christian season of Advent. If you would like to celebrate Advent, you might find the following resources helpful:
Advent Devotional Guide from Laity Lodge Youth Camp and Laity Lodge Family Camp.
Introduction to Advent available on my blog.
Introduction to the Christian Year available on my blog.
My e-book, Discovering Advent: How to Experience the Power of Waiting on God at Christmastime, available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Images sourced via Creative Commons.