Hope. Peace. Love. Joy. The four themes of advent help us to remember the great impact of Jesus coming to Earth in human form. And hope is a concept that we sometimes have a poor view of. When we speak of the hope of Jesus, it’s not a vague good feeling or uncertain but positive vibe; it’s a solid belief in the fulfillment of the promises of a faithful God. And so as we reflect on what Christmas means for our sense of hope, we are reminded of several promises.
Christmas reminds us of the hope of life eternally spent with God.
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. – 1 John 5:13
For the believer, we know that our future is kept by the Father. And we KNOW that we have eternal life. That’s a secure position, not something that will change on a whim. And verse 14 goes on to say this-
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
We have CONFIDENCE that we have access to the Father’s ear! That alone is a mind-blowing thought, that the Creator of the universe listens to our small voice! And not just listens to us out of obligation, but out of love.And when we hear “eternal” in this verse, we tend to only consider eternity future, the unimaginable life in heaven with Jesus and without sin. But our hope is not just for a future that we wait to attain!
Christmas reminds us of the hope we have in our daily walk with the Lord.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:8-10
The reminder of salvation through faith alone because of God’s calling is a great stabilizer for when we feel unworthy or inadequate. God saved us through His doing, not our own, and yet He also prepared for us good works to do, fueling our desire to become more like Jesus and stay close to Him and His Word! The recreation of our lives in Jesus is a feat that only God could do, and the fact of Jesus’ human incarnation reminds us that we have a Savior who understands intimately what it is like to live on this planet. The beginning of His physical presence that we celebrate on Christmas is an awesome picture of the Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). The broken world we live in will inevitably have trials and tribulations, but the Christmas story speaks into this as well.
Christmas reminds us of the hope of life beyond the distresses of this world.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 1:3-6
Listen to the power of the words here. Imperishable. Undefiled. Unfading. Kept in heaven for you, guarded by God’s power. These strongholds help us as we face our trials. Our hope is not in something flimsy or imperfect, but in an amazingly powerful God who will see us through all difficulties. And while we know this life will have struggles, we know that’s not the end of the story
Christmas reminds us of the hope of a renewed life to come.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
This is how hope helps us to live out our faith. While hope may be set on things unseen, we have full assurance that God is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory. THIS is the hope that we have, not that life will be easy, but that the worst we face here is the worst we will ever experience, and it pales in comparison to our eternal future.As Christmas draws near, I am praying this over you just as Paul did over the believers in Rome at the end of his letter. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans 15:13).
Love in Christ,