It’s kind of ironic, isn’t it? The season with taglines like “hope” and “joy” and “peace” can actually be a time when those beautiful sentiments are more elusive than ever. If you have family turmoil lurking around the corner, you may think this is certainly not the year when your heart will overflow with hope and joy. Stay with me for a few minutes: It just may be you’re looking in the wrong places.
Getting a Handle on our Expectations
I have to admit it: I love Christmas movies! Sometimes, though, that seemingly innocent hour-and-a-half of getting caught up in a perfect world of cozy family togetherness by a fireside can make the crash back into the frustrations of daily life feel like a harsh, cruel joke. Couple that phenomenon with sentiments like “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” and you’re basically creating your own Christmas wish list that’s unlikely to be fulfilled—especially if you live in Florida! When we choose to place our hopes in such transient ideals, we set ourselves up for disappointment
By contrast, Scripture (Philippians 4:8) encourages us to think about those things that are true and honest—in fact, those are the first qualifications for the kinds of thoughts we’re to be mulling over at Thanksgiving or Christmastime or anytime. When we allow ourselves to focus on unlikely possibilities, we rob ourselves of joy.
Realizing the Significance of Hope in Christ
While we still might hope to see crystal flakes outside our window Christmas Eve, we need to realize that our hope in Christ is quite a different kind of hope.
In Scripture, the word “hope” does not carry the wide uncertainty with which we often use it; instead, it could be translated “confident expectation.” It’s the difference between hoping your child gets a bike for Christmas when you had no plans or means to provide it, versus when you purchased the bike last week, and you saw your spouse put a big red bow on it and hide it in the basement just last night. Of course, with the purchased bicycle, someone could conceivably steal it, while no one can alter the plans of almighty God.
Hebrews 11 is a passage filled with the testimonies of hope-filled saints who were more consumed with eternal realities than temporal disappointments.
Basking in the Beauty of Advent
The concept Advent can help nurture your heart’s hope in Christ and anticipation of a truly perfect day, the start of endless perfect Holy Days that will far exceed even our most fanciful and sparkling products of our imaginations.
The concept can be displayed in the format of a Jesse Tree or myriad other methods of visualizing the countdown to Christmas. The idea is that our anticipation of this earthly celebration of Christ’s first coming would mirror the Jews’ centuries-long wait for their Messiah.
As it also foreshadows our yearning for His Second Coming, we can be sure that, someday, our Shepherd will ensure that we have no wants unmet, no desires thwarted. It will be a time of true, lasting joy. As we meditate on its reality, we can experience true joy.