My prayer is that light will flood your hearts and that you will understand the hope that was given to you when God chose you. Then you will discover the glorious blessings that will be yours together with all of God’s people. Ephesians 1:18 (CEV)
“What do you think hope is?” I asked a group of elementary aged children. Their eyes widened as they stared at me like deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. The uncomfortable silence of uncertainty filled the air. No one moved.
I wanted to help them out, but honestly, I was struggling too. How do you take a huge abstract word like hope and narrow it down to a simplistic kid-friendly definition? My thoughts spun like the sugar in a cotton candy machine, but they weren’t pulling together.
Finally, someone spoke. “Hope is when you believe something.”
I thought for a beat, and suddenly my strands of thought pulled together and clung to the core of this one simple definition. “Yes,” I replied. “Hope is when you believe that something good is going to happen.”
I’ve seen a lot of articles and blogs about hope lately. It seems many people find it to be in high demand and short supply. This year has brought too much for many. Too much grief, too much loss, too much uncertainty, too much anxiety, too much divisiveness, too much change, too much anger, too much politics, too much of just about everything.
The “too much” has taken away our ability to believe in something better just around the bend.
The people of Jesus’ time were all too familiar with the concept of too much. Too much oppression, too much injustice, too much war, too much religion, too much greed, too much corruption, too much poverty, too much disparity. There were many who had given up on the hope of the Messiah.
It was into this world of too much that Jesus first came. He stepped right into the middle of the mess and healed the sick, fed the hungry, welcomed sinners and spoke of a new covenant that would free the people from the burden of the Law. Jesus brought hope. Jesus made people believe that something good was going to happen.
As Jesus followers, we are called to be a people of hope. We are called to believe, regardless of life’s too much, that something good is going to happen. Because it has. Because Christ came. Because he died. Because he rose in victory and conquered death. Because he lives within us. Because he is coming again.
This is our hope in Advent–not just that Christ came, but that he is here. He is Emmanuel–God with us.
This week, I would encourage you to reflect on the nature of hope. More than that, I challenge each of us to live in God’s hope. Let’s take a stand, together, against life’s too much. Think about how you might offer hope to someone else this week. You might:
- send a note of encouragement to someone struggling with loss or loneliness
- surprise someone struggling financially with an anonymous gift
- send thank-you notes to your local firefighters, police officers and city workers
- check in on someone you know is struggling with the holidays
- randomly pay for someone’s dinner, groceries, coffee, gas, etc…
- ask the cashier at the grocery store, department store or gas station how they’re doing–and encourage them to answer
- call someone who has a thankless job by name and thank them for their work
- forgive yourself or someone else and move on with life
- speak kindly to those you come into contact with, even if they’re telemarketers who call during dinner
There are thousands of ways we can bring hope to a world of too much. We just need to let God’s light shine through.
Blessings and Peace,