Monday, December 24, 2018

The Face of Hope

     After I lost my dad, a lot of people would try to comfort me by telling me I would see him again in heaven. It was a nice thought, and it wasn't that I didn't believe it, but I wanted him to be with me on earth, to help me through High-school, to be at my graduations, and to walk me down the aisle at my wedding. I didn't find much comfort in dwelling on the fact that I would see him in heaven when I needed him on earth.
   It wasn’t until recently that I began to understand the significance of hope. This summer God called me to trust him to bring healing where I would otherwise have expected more hurt. I stepped forward in a faint hope that he would. The song “Seasons,” by Hillsong Worship, was a huge part of how God kept hope alive in me during that season. It has a line that really stands out to me now: "You could have saved us in a second; instead you sent a child."
     When Jesus was born, the world still had 33 years to wait for salvation, and longer to wait for the Holy Spirit. So why do we celebrate Christmas? Why not save the celebrations for Easter?  Was anything so different between the day Jesus was born and the day before? Death and sin still ran wild, and there was still no cure for either sin’s punishment or it’s power; yet, angels, and shepherds were overjoyed! Perhaps the difference was hope. 
     The promise of a savior had been made thousands of years before, but surely many doubted that it would be kept. Jesus birth was not the complete fulfillment of the promise, but when Jesus was born, hope became real. Hope was no longer built only on words passed down for generations. Hope was now alive in a baby boy with a star marking His birthplace. Hope had a name and a face! 
     It wasn’t until about a month ago, that I began to recognize the fruit of what was planted in the painful season I mentioned earlier. An open wound had become a scar and I realized what a lesson it had taught me about placing my confidence in the approval of people. If that hadn't happened before I went to college who knows how much more turmoil I would have experienced over the opinions of professors, roommates, and friends.
     That’s about the time I realized that hope mattered. Hope means believing it won’t always be this way. Having hope this summer meant believing God would both heal and bring something good out of that hurt. Still hope means believing I will see my dad again some day. In every difficult moment, hope is what stops pain from becoming despair!
      The hope first realized as a baby boy born in a barn, is the hope I cary of seeing my father again, the hope of every tear being wiped away from my eyes forever, and the hope of a perfect, unbroken relationship with our Heavenly Father! Looking forward with expectant confidence to these things is the reason I can keep moving forward after hard days, weeks, months, and years, because hope says there is something better ahead, and it’s worth waiting for.
Merry Christmas!