The Thrill of Hope
November 28-December 4, 2021
Hope is not optional for healthy humans. We need hope to survive. Without hope, we’re stuck in our circumstances and can’t see our way out of the darkness. We’re going to explore that kind of hope together in Scripture, prayer, and worship. Let’s begin.
”As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long, “Where is your God?” These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God." (Psalm 42:1-6)
"But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this." (Isaiah 9:1-7)
Hope is a curious thing because it’s something we all have. However, there is a difference between a temporary and eternal hope; that difference being the object, idea, or person in which we place our hope. When we were younger, we hoped for simpler things: “I hope the tooth fairy comes. I hope Santa knows what I want. I hope I make the team.” As we get older, we still cling to nearly meaningless wishes, but gradually the deepest desires of our heart bleed into hope: “I hope I have a lasting marriage. I hope my children follow Jesus. I hope I am able to provide for my family. I hope my life has meaning. I hope I am not alone.” These are all very noble desires, but they also have the ability to disappoint.
The hope of Christ, however, is not just wishful thinking. The hope of Christ is permanent and it will never disappoint. In times of failure, sadness, unmet expectations, and even in the depths of despair, it is the hope of Christ that gives us a glimpse of heaven. It brings the promise of salvation. It sets our sights on the reality of the resurrection. And it focuses our hearts on eternal life. Even when the world around us is falling apart, and we recognize that nothing in this life can bring us lasting hope, we cling desperately to the hope of Christ, our perspective turns heavenward and our present situation dissipates at the thought of Christ’s return.
Come, Lord Jesus, the hope of humanity.
Pray this prayer throughout the day. Every time you sit down at a meal or sit at a red light, breathe this prayer and allow God to use you as an instrument of his hope on earth. This week, pray this anytime you find yourself longing for a break from work or thinking about Christmas gifts. Let Christ bring you lasting hope.
“Father, teach me to remember the hope of Christ, and help me to be an instrument of Your hope.”
O Holy Night
Arrangement by Placide Cappeau & Adolphe Charles Adam
YouTube Video: O Holy Night by The McClures
1. What are some things you worry about? How can true hope change your disposition?
2. Do you have temporary hopes for this next year? How can the hope you have for those things be more centered around Christ?
3. How can you regularly bring the hope of Christ to your family? Your neighborhood? Your community?
1 Timothy 6 warns us not to put our hope in wealth but in God. With the measure God has blessed you, let Christ be your hope, and use your means to bless others. Ideas: Buying a couple of toys to add to a local toy drive or financially give to one of our missional partners.
Hope is something that keeps our perspective from crumbling when we are faced with difficulties. Think of someone in your life that is going through a rough time. Consider a way you can lighten this time for them. Ideas: Bring their family a meal, offer to take the kids for an evening or send them an encouraging note.
Home: Each morning at breakfast discuss your upcoming plans for Christmas. Discuss how anticipating this special family time is like or unlike what Mary and Joseph hoped for as they awaited Jesus’ birth.
School: Share with a friend from school a struggle you’ve experienced and how you were able to remain hopeful because of your faith.
Community: The color yellow often represents hope. Tie yellow ribbons around candy canes and deliver them to your neighbors. Explain the symbolism of the yellow ribbon and the candy cane.