by Robin Hoig Daily Office Lectionary for December 1: AM Psalm 1, 2, 3; PM Psalm 4, 7; Isaiah 1:10-20; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Luke 20:1-8
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5
Sometimes, when a friend asks me how I am doing, I answer by saying, “I have a fourteen-year-old daughter.” That pretty much covers it. Most people understand what that means even if they haven’t experienced it. The hardest part of parenting my daughter at this age is the uncertainty…the waiting. I’m watching for signs that she is becoming herself; that she is growing into the strong, healthy person God created her to be, a person who can reasonably function in the world, such as it is, and be good to others and to herself. This involves a lot of waiting.
During a conversation over coffee a couple of weeks ago I made an important discovery. There is one thing that makes the uncertainty and the waiting bearable, and that one thing is simple. It is hope. I truly have no way of knowing what the future holds, but I also truly have hope that all will be right and all will be well. Truly. Hope gives me the endurance I need to keep on walking and to keep on watching and to keep on waiting.
Hope is a very powerful thing; it makes all the difference. Often, I have hope for no earthly reason; in fact, my hope goes against all earthly reason! But I know that hope does not disappoint us. I’m pretty sure scripture says so. Ponder that…really? Never? That seems a little too good to be true, doesn’t it? Here’s what I think, I think that if we are truly hoping in God, we hope not with specific expectations, but we hope with open and eager anticipation. We aren’t hoping for what we want, we are hoping for all that He wants for us. How could we ever be disappointed?
I bring this up now, because Advent is meant to be a time of waiting. Symbolically we wait for Christ to enter the world…to enter our individual worlds…to enter our hearts. It is good for us to be reminded of His presence by remembering his absence. Waiting is never easy…waiting for Christmas is especially not easy since everything around us is screaming Christmas! It is hard to wait because we know exactly what is coming, and we know the greatness of it…both on the surface where our senses are overloaded with the beauty and fun of it all, and deep below the surface where the reality of “Christ in us” lies.
It is good for us to choose, amidst all of the celebrating, to wait. It does me good to sit with my own emptiness and to look to God with hope, anticipating His Christ, knowing that He will come and fill me. This waiting teaches me how to wait…this hoping teaches me how to hope. It is because of this waiting that I can learn to walk and watch and wait. It is with this same hope that I can look out from the dark places in my own life and hope beyond what I can see, knowing that, in the end, I will never be disappointed.
Image by Hartwig HKD (used by permission via Creative Commons)