Sunday: "Hope" by Holly Yinger
SCRIPTURE: Luke 21:5-19
Long ago, the Israelites were given a seed of hope that a promised Messiah would come and set things right. They waited. As they held onto this hope seed, they began to dream up their own ideas of what their Messiah would look like, the kingdom that He would build. But then one day, the long awaited hope seed finally sprouted in their midst, and many didn’t even recognize it, for it was not the Messiah they were expecting. And their expectations blinded them to the work and presence of God.
It has been my observation and experience that there are two different definitions of hope. First, there is the hope that is defined as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen”. In the second hope, we find instead “a feeling of trust”. These two understandings of hope can manifest themselves in very different ways.
The danger of the first definition of hope is that we, like the Israelites, become distracted with our own expectations for Christ’s return and we miss the work that God is already doing. Expectations are wild creatures that morph so quickly and seamlessly, that before we know it, they’re nothing like the original. But this is why the second definition is so full of beauty. Instead of putting all of our stock in our own detailed expectations, we can rest in trust of the Giver and the Fulfiller of our Hopes.
Our hope is not built upon a promise that all of our wildest hopes and dreams will come true. Our hope is not in earthly security or comfortability. Because these certainly do not seem to be the promises that we find in Luke 21. There will be wars, terrors, persecution. But we can find comfort in the words of Jesus when He says, “Not a hair on your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.” (Luke 21:18-19) We can find comfort in this reminder that our hope lies not in our circumstance, but in a God who is ever redeeming, ever calling forth beauty from the ashes. And our hope in the God sustains us through the times of suffering and hardship, because we trust that God is a God of true and lasting goodness. Our hope lies in this beautiful reality that when we draw close to God, our hearts become softened, tender soil where God can plant seeds of true goodness and removed the weeds of false hope that we’ve grown ourselves. Our hope lies in our hearts being changed, so that we can recognize the beauty and good that God is doing in the world. And that we might become participants and ushers of this same glorious hope.
A gardener is familiar with this concept of hope. The winter is long and the earth remains cold and hard. And yet a gardener does not wait for the first hopeful rays of warm sunshine to plant the first of their seeds. By the time the spring’s sun peaks through the trees, the time for sowing spring’s seeds has already past. Hope is the planting of a seed while the prospects of spring still remain far off. Hope is to trust in God so fully, so deeply that we need not see the definitive ‘how’ before we surrender ourselves. Hope is a vulnerable trust in the Giver that submits to the work that must be done today. We live in a world where hope has come in Christ, in the beautiful, unmatchable gift of God with us.
We live in a world where hope continues to be found in glimpses and glimmers. A world that still has many corners desperate for a light to penetrate the darkness. And so, we abide in hope. In these dark wintry days, we wait for a promise to be fulfilled once again. For the reign of the Lord to come in all its glory and splendor.
Lord, today we ask that you would teach us to cling to You, the Giver of our hope, rather than a collection of misguided hopes. We pray for eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to feel Your presence in our midst today.
“Above all, we seek to stay awake and become aware. Jesus often enters our lives in quiet, hidden and unexpected ways.” —Trevor Hudson